(Image courtesy: Shutterstock.com)

JOPLIN, Mo. — On Sunday night through early Monday Morning (2/26-2/27), the Four States region saw the first big severe weather event of 2023, with another large storm setting up for parts of Oklahoma and Arkansas on Thursday (3/2).

Now that March has officially arrived, it won’t be long before springtime severe weather in the Midwest, starts to ramp up. Even though the calendar says it’s still winter, mother nature can be unpredictable when it comes to the weather, and Sunday’s tornadoes in Oklahoma, Kansas, and Missouri proved just that.

“It’s definitely not common, but we’ve seen it before. We’ve seen it as early as January, right around Christmas, and sometimes into the end of February and early March. The storms we saw in the Midwest earlier this week, definitely were a little different than what we usually see. But we’ve also been very warm for the last four weeks, which that’s kind of the first sign of us getting into that early severe weather season,” said Meteorologist, Chase Bullman.

With what appears to be an early start to severe weather season, it’s time to start thinking about severe storm safety.

“Typically we try to gear up for severe weather preparedness in March. That gives us a month, month-and-a-half for people to think about it and maybe consider what their plan of action is going to be in the event of severe storms,” said Meteorologist, Ray Foreman.

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Severe Weather Preparedness Week” in Missouri and Kansas begins on Monday (3/6) and wraps up Friday, March 10th. The highlight of the week is the annual statewide tornado drill, which will be held Tuesday, March 7th at 10:00 a.m. During that time, all schools, businesses, and residents are asked to practice their tornado sheltering plan.

“Now’s the time to start paying attention and getting it all ready. So come April to May, when we’re in the peak of severe weather season, you don’t have to worry about any preparation plans, you’re ready to go. So getting a head start now just gives you a leg up, and being ready when and if the time comes,” said Bullman.

During Severe Weather Preparedness Week, local meteorologists suggest that you take a moment to practice your severe weather emergency sheltering plan. At the very least, answer this question: Where would I take shelter if a tornado were approaching me right now?

“It’s also a good idea to practice your severe weather sheltering plan with children, too. Because if you do it as practice beforehand, when it is the real case, it’s not like they’ve never been there before. It seems familiar,” said Foreman.

(Image courtesy: National Weather Service)

According to the National Weather Service, each day of Severe Weather Preparedness Week is dedicated to a different aspect of severe weather planning and safety:

  • Monday (3/6): Preparedness & Receiving Weather Information
  • Tuesday (3/7): Tornadoes & Tornado Safety
  • Wednesday (3/8): Lightning Safety
  • Thursday (3/9): Wind & Hail Safety
  • Friday (3/10): Flood Safety

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For those who may be using their storm shelter as a storage space, local meteorologists say it’s time to do some early “spring cleaning.”

“The amount of people who use it for storage is alarming, but at the same time, I get it. Now’s the time to start cleaning it out, making sure you have space for everybody. You need to make sure you have space for everybody to be mildly comfortable. So it’s important to take the time now and clear that out. Also, make sure you have all the supplies you need: Flashlights, batteries, a case of water — all thing things you would need if the worst does happen during a severe storm,” said Bullman.

You can learn more about Severe Weather Preparedness Week, HERE.