Grandview third grade students learned about weather safety from KSN’s Chief Meteorologist Lisa Teachman on March 6.
Teachman’s visit capped off Severe Weather Safety week. She told students about her dad being an amateur storm chaser and used examples from her childhood to teach students about taking shelter during a tornado.
To keep things in perspective, Teachman shared with students that any single place in Kansas is only likely to have a tornado cross its path once every 1,000 years. She let students try to answer many of her safety-related questions instead of simply telling them the answer, which kept them engaged in the conversation.
In one scenario, Teachman shared that her childhood home didn’t have a storm shelter and asked students where they think she went if there was a tornado. After one of the students shared the correct answer, she described why a bathroom might be a good place to be if you don’t have a tornado shelter.
Bathrooms don’t typically have windows. When trying to seek shelter during a tornado, the safest place to be is in an interior room that doesn’t have any windows.
“Put as many walls between yourself and the tornado as you can,” Teachman advised.
She asked students what they would take with them if they were at home and the tornado sirens went off. Many students said they would grab a flashlight or first aid kit. Teachman said there were three things she would suggest they take: a pillow to protect their head, a blanket to protect their body, and shoes to protect their feet.
While old theories suggested people hide in the ditch if they happen to be in their car and cannot get out of a tornado’s path, Teachman told students that ditches are actually not a good place to seek shelter. She shared a story about six people who were killed in the ditch because the tornado tipped their car over on top of them. She also reminded students that ditches are also where all of the excess rain water and potentially a lot of debris will go.
After talking about tornado safety, Teachman transitioned to thunderstorm facts and safety. She told students that if they could hear the thunder, they were close enough to the storm to get struck by lightning and they should go indoors as quickly as possible. She told them they should not do dishes or take a bath during a thunderstorm because it was possible for lightning to strike a water pipe and it could shock them.
Teachman also reminded them that trees, metal structures and bodies of water were also unsafe to be in or around if lightning was near. A single bolt of lightning can be as hot as the surface of the sun.
The top three killers of a storm are flooding, lightning, and tornadoes. Thunderstorms can be accompanied by hail. She told students the largest hail recorded so far was in Vivian, South Dakota, where the hail stones actually left craters in the ground.
Hail is formed when water is lifted in an updraft and freezes in the colder air, then falls in a downdraft, adding another layer of moisture, before being carried back up in another updraft. The more times this cycle repeats, the larger the hail. Storms that produce quarter-sized hail or larger are typically categorized as severe.
While tornados and hail may get most of the attention, flooding is the number one killer during a storm. Teachman told students it only takes six inches of water to knock someone off their feet. It only takes one or two feet of water to stall and move a car.
“Never walk, never drive, and never play in flood water,” Teachman said.
Although hurricanes are not a weather phenomenon students will experience in Kansas, Teachman spoke briefly about them as well. She told students that hurricane season is roughly June through November and three conditions have to be met for a hurricane to form: warm ocean water that is 80 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer; a cluster of storms must be present; and the winds in the upper atmosphere must be light enough that the storm can breathe.
Teachman described the doppler radar as an x-ray for storms. She talked about some of the storm chasing she did before people could pull up radar on their phones.
“You guys are blessed to be living in a time of technology,” Teachman said.
After talking about sever weather safety, Teachman took the students outside to see the Storm Tracker 3 SUV.
KSN Chief Meteorologist Lisa Teachman talks to Grandview students about severe weather safety.