Severe Weather Season Gears Up this Week. Are You Prepared?

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By Scott Roberts

The post I made the morning of the April 14, 2012 tornado outbreak has been one of the ones people continue to turn to frequently at the start of the storm season. The following is an excerpt, updated for the new things we’ve learned in warning science and preparedness in the last five years. The things I list are actions I highly recommend you take in advance of this week’s storm system.

Overview of this week’s risks

As of Saturday evening May 13th, it appears we’ll have severe weather on Tuesday (5/16) and Thursday (5/18) at a minimum. There is a conditional risk Wednesday, and models support at least some severe risk through early next weekend.


Tornadoes are possible in the western half of the state Tuesday and the western 2/3 of the state Thursday.

Receiving the warning

In the past five years, social science research has confirmed something we probably know by instinct: most of us need to hear or see the same warning information three times before we’re likely to take protective action.

The ultimate confirmation, of course, is to see it with your own eyes. This is the major reason I stream video and partner with KWCH to report on storms. I make three levels of streaming available directly, and you can view my stream on the KWCH chaser radar.

On there is a link to my SevereStudios stream, which comes from a video camera and will include zoom-ins on important storm features. This is accessible by anyone for free, and may include a pre-roll ad. I also offer a free HD stream from my dashcam, which shows a fixed view of the sky in front of me. You can see it by signing up for our briefings email list.

New this year, I am streaming audio and video via Facebook Live to KSStorm.Info Insiders . Due to the extra costs involved with streaming HD full-motion video and audio, this is a paid membership. It includes a number of benefits described at

Sample BONUS material for Insiders: Insiders Briefing #1 on May 16 2017 event (PDF)

Preparation Actions: Complete by Tuesday noon (May 16)

  • If you have prescription medications needing refill in the next 7 days (before 5/20/2017), get those refilled.
  • Now would be a good time to verify and update your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance coverage. While you’re at it, grab your phone or tablet and walk around your home making a video of everything you own. It makes filling out a claim much easier and far more accurate.
  • Verify the water in hour home disaster kit is fresh. Don’t forget your Pet disaster kit, too!


If your community is in the tornado risk area Tuesday morning, do this

  • Choose a family member or friend who lives outside the tornado risk area to be your point of contact if your community is hit.
  • Call them and lay out your exact plans for the day; where you’ll be and when, for everyone who lives with you.
  • Call your out of town family members and give them that person’s contact information. The phone system WILL FAIL/OVERLOAD in a major disaster. You may only be able to get one call or text out, so you and your distant family members need to know who that call or text will go to.

Do the above if your community is in a tornado risk any other day, too.

(Excerpt from original post April 14, 2012)

  • I have an emergency kit in my vehcle that includes sev­eral road flares, a first aid kit, a box of nitrile gloves (a lighter ver­sion of what EMS work­ers use) and heav­ier gloves for each per­son that will be with me. I have also put a crow­bar in the van in case of the need to break some­thing to res­cue a per­son, and I have a million-candlepower spot­light and several LED work lights to help with night activities.
  • I have gath­ered all my vital doc­u­ments (home insur­ance paper­work, ID for all fam­ily mem­bers, pass­ports, immu­niza­tion records for the kids, and other things needed to estab­lish who I am and what I own if the worst hap­pens. I take this set of fold­ers with me on bad days. You should have it within arms reach to take with you to shelter.
  • Cash and gaso­line are good things to have stocked up. ATMs, cash registers and gas pumps fail when there’s no power.
  • Remem­ber to pre­pare a dis­as­ter kit if you haven’t. See instructions at

The Red Cross Tornado app, which  I discuss here, includes an easy way to notify your designated person that you’re okay.

Please check out all our safety posts for more preparation information, and in case the worst happens, you may want to prepare yourself mentally by re-reading my post concerning the lessons I learned in CERT class. You may be surprised at the initial priorities of rescuers.

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