WeatherKansas City Spring Weather Special


Dangers of complacency, importance of heeding severe weather warnings

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Posted at 10:45 AM, Mar 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-30 20:12:08-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — I was born during the peak of tornado season on May 22, 1970, and raised in Johnson County, Kansas, the eastern side of Tornado Alley.

There have been around 50 tornado warnings in Johnson County since 1986.

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There have been 47 tornado warnings in Johnson County, Kansas, since 1986.

I have been storm chasing a few times as well. One of my most memorable chases was 25 years ago when I went storm chasing with Gary Lezak in southern Nebraska.

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KSHB 41 meteorologists Jeff Penner and Gary Lezak went storm chasing in southern Nebraska in 1996.
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KSHB 41 meteorologists Jeff Penner and Gary Lezak went storm chasing in southern Nebraska in 1996.

But in my 52 years in Tornado Alley, I have never seen a tornado.

How is that possible?

I have every reason to be complacent and not take a tornado warning seriously. In reality, it is quite the opposite when dealing with the chance of an imminent tornado, there is every reason to take it seriously.

A tornado can blast through a neighborhood in minutes and destroy it. In less than 30 seconds, lives can be changed forever.

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KSHB 41 meteorologist Jeff Penner's biggest fear entering 2022's severe weather season is complacency.

At KSHB 41, we take tornado warnings very seriously and broadcast tornado warnings that are issued by the National Weather Service.

“Look, on most days, there's absolutely no chance of a tornado," said Andy Bailey, warning coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Pleasant Hill, Missouri. "So on those days where they are possible when we issue that tornado warning, we've whittled down to a very small timescale and a very small area where the chances are actually 1000s of times more likely that you could be struck by a tornado.

"We're just asking for you to seek shelter for like 15 minutes until that storm has passed. You know, that's something we're asking of everyone maybe once or twice in a year for their particular location.”

If the threat moves on and you did not see the tornado or did not have any damage or injuries, try to be thankful and show respect that you were spared.

If you experience the tornado and you have damage, you will be thankful that you took the tornado warning seriously.

Stay with KSHB 41, and we’ll keep you advised.