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Tornado Season in Tornado Alley

Updated on September 12, 2022
tiffany delite profile image

Kansas weather is a bit crazy y'all! If you're visiting, better have (at minimum) your snow gear, umbrella, and a friend with a basement!

Tornado Outbreak Likely!


Tornado Watch: Wichita, KS in the Bullseye!

On Saturday, April 14, 2012, Wichita, Kansas, became the target of a dangerous storm system that spawned approximately one hundred tornadoes in Kansas alone! Meteorologists had warned over 24 hours in advance that Wichita was particularly susceptible to severe storms and a tornado outbreak. Sources say that this type of advance warning has only been done one other time in history...when the "Tennessee tornadoes" struck in 2006.

Sure enough, around 9pm, the reports of a tornado on the ground headed straight for Wichita began to air on local and national news and then began filling the Facebook newsfeed. About that same time, the tornado sirens began wailing, and while I had been encouraging my kids to get their socks and shoes on all evening (something I always do in Kansas severe weather), they suddenly sprang into action once the threat of a tornado suddenly became very real.

What's Your "Tornado Personality"

When you hear there is a tornado you say:

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Tornado Checklist

I hustled our family down to the basement, and we began our checklist:

  1. Candles/matches/flashlights (in case the power goes out)...check.
  2. Fully dressed with shoes/socks/sweater (in case of surviving a direct hit and having to walk around in debris afterwards)...check.
  3. Water/Bread/PBJ/Apples (in case we would get stuck and need to eat)...check.
  4. Cell phone/laptop/IPOD (to stay in touch with concerned family and friends as well as keep tabs on the approaching storm)...check.
  5. Spicy (our cat)...check.

Will It Be Like Greensburg?

While the storm approached, hundreds of thousands of Wichitans huddled in their shelters to wait out the storm and hope for the best. Early reports indicated that the tornado was nearly one mile wide and would come through Wichita near the 135/Kellogg (US HWY 54) interchange. I did the mental math on that and realized that we lived approximately 5 miles due north from that location, and I'm not an expert on tornadoes by any means, but I know that 5 miles isn't very far from a large tornado whose path could shift unexpectedly at any time.

The first image that came to my mind was the damage and devastation from the EF5 tornado that leveled Greensburg, Kansas, in May 2007. I actually drove through Greensburg on my way to Liberal, Kansas, on that fateful friday evening for visitation exchange with my ex-husband. I remember seeing that storm from a distance as I traveled east on US Hwy 54, and I said to my kids, "Oh boy, somebody under those clouds is really getting it tonight", but at the time, I really had no idea just how bad. I headed back to Wichita around 10:00 that evening thinking that I had probably given the worst of the storm time enough to cross US Hwy 54 without us getting in its way, but when I reached Bucklin, Kansas, I was turned around by a deputy who informed me that the entire town of Greensburg, Kansas, had been destroyed by a tornado.

Tornado That Demolished Greensburg

Recovery After the Devasting Greesburg Tornado

Tornado Warning! EF3 Hits Wichita, KS

I quickly snapped back to reality. Although I was tempted to just succumb to full-blown panic, and I realized that I was doing everything that I possibly could in my current situation. As Rhianna, singer/songwriter/superstar, once said, "God has this thing about doing stuff His own way and there really is just nothing you can do about that." I looked at my children with a calm smile, and I told them that I loved them. We quickly went over once again how we would go to the bathroom, shut the door, and wrap the pillows around our heads if it appeared we would take a direct hit, but until we knew we just had to stay alert.

It wasn't much longer until we got the news that the tornado had arrived in Wichita and the southeast side of town was taking a direct hit. Even though we live on the far north side of town, it was still too close for comfort, so we remained in the basement until the storm had completely passed, and we received the "all clear". I smiled at the kids and said, "Well, I guess we are spared tonight." Exhausted, we let our loved ones know we were ok, and suddenly, it was again business as usual.

Aftermath of an EF3 Tornado in Wichita, KS

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Wichita, KS April 15, 2012Wichita, KS April 15, 2012Wichita, KS April 15, 2012Wichita, KS April 15, 2012Wichita, KS April 15, 2012
Wichita, KS April 15, 2012
Wichita, KS April 15, 2012 | Source
Wichita, KS April 15, 2012
Wichita, KS April 15, 2012 | Source
Wichita, KS April 15, 2012
Wichita, KS April 15, 2012 | Source
Wichita, KS April 15, 2012
Wichita, KS April 15, 2012 | Source
Wichita, KS April 15, 2012
Wichita, KS April 15, 2012 | Source

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2012 Tiffany Delite


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