Severe Weather Awareness Week March 22-26; NWS Safety Tips

From Hemingford to Falls City, we can all agree there is something for everyone when it comes to Nebraska weather. The National Weather Service wants Nebraskans to be “Weather-Ready” when severe weather threatens.

March 22-26 is Nebraska Severe Weather Awareness Week and the National Weather Service (NWS) encourages everyone to take the opportunity to develop and practice a severe weather plan for your home or office, learn something new about severe weather and its impacts, or just brush up on a topic.

New this year are maps of hail, wind, and tornado reports across Nebraska. It’s clear, every corner of the state had its share of severe weather. Looking closer at the map of hail reports, notice how individual thunderstorms or a series of thunderstorms produced large hail along a path (north central Nebraska) or in clusters (south central and southwest Nebraska most notably).

That is very common from more intense thunderstorm complexes. Another interesting point is the location of wind reports. While there are reports from just about everywhere, some reports are “aligned” in the same direction or appear to be in a relatively straight line.

These reports most likely represent wind gusts recorded by automated wind sensors, such as sensors operated by the Nebraska Department of Transportation, railroads or even home weather stations available online. Local NWS offices are good at “data-mining” and these maps represent reports obtained by the NWS from automated weather sensors, spotters, law enforcement, emergency management and the public.

The NWS relies heavily on the reports provided. Not only do they verify what type of severe weather the storm is producing, but they are a valuable messaging component of severe weather information. Studies have shown reliable reports of severe weather and/or the impact of a weather event are a key driver for people to make informed risk and safety decisions which may save their life.

2020 was a “down” year for tornadoes in Nebraska, and there is nothing wrong with that! Only 21 tornadoes were reported which is less than half of the 30-year average of 51. Interestingly, the majority of the tornadoes were reported in central and western Nebraska. Over the last 15 years, tornadoes numbers have generally declined on average across the state on a yearly basis.

While there are some short-term weather and climate-related trends which can influence severe weather frequency, such as drought or El Nino/La Nina, the exact reason for the longer decline is unknown. However, we can’t let our guard down! The NWS hopes you will check the many safety facts and terms so you and your loved ones will be safe before, during and after the storm.

Check out the NWS and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration fact sheet HERE which includes severe weather facts, weather radio information, severe weather terminology, tornado, flood, and lightning safety, and so much more!