Tips offered for severe weather season preparation, awareness

Kansas weather is notoriously fickle. The arrival of spring brings with it severe weather season. A common concern for those new to KU is our state’s somewhat overblown notoriety — thanks to “The Wizard of Oz” — for twisters. But here’s a quick primer.


Tornadoes occur during some (not all) thunderstorms, day or night. Breezy or cloudy weather does not portend a tornado. There must be a thunderstorm present, thus tornado season in Kansas typically is March-June.

Storm Forecast

If a thunderstorm is forecast, stay tuned to a weather radio or media reports in case a tornado watch or warning is issued. A tornado watch means a tornado has not been seen but the conditions are very favorable for tornadoes to occur at any moment. A tornado warning means a tornado has actually been sighted or has been picked up on radar in that area. You should seek shelter immediately in a safe sturdy structure and away from windows.


While you won’t likely see a tornado, you might hear a siren. Douglas County’s outdoor warning system consists of 35 sirens placed strategically throughout the county — two on the Lawrence campus — as an early warning device to alert citizens of imminent severe weather. The sirens are tested at noon on the first Monday during the months August through February, and on the first and third Monday during the months March through July. If the outdoor warning sirens are heard any time other than the scheduled test days, seek shelter in any KU building and tune in to local radio or television for instructions and information.

Local radio

KLWN 1320 AM

KLZR 105.9 FM

KANU 91.5 FM

Local TV

Sunflower Broadband Channel 6

Text alerts

KU does not send text alerts for severe weather. If you suspect severe weather is imminent, stay tuned to local media. Weather radios are another inexpensive method of being prepared for severe weather.

To learn more about campus alerts and to sign up for emergency text alerts, visit

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Amanda Schwegler, assistant director, Center for Service Learning
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