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Weekend Severe Weather Hits Parsons


Parsons experienced a series of near misses with severe weather Saturday night into Sunday morning (April 27/28). Saturday evening a string of storm fronts headed toward Parsons from the south, but slide to the west of town as they moved to the northeast. Later, early on Sunday, other storm cells slide just to the east of town as they pushed to the northeast.

The National Weather Service (NWS) issued an encompassing Tornado Watch for most of the evening ending at midnight for the Parsons area and southeast Kansas.

A tornado watch is defined by the NWS when tornados are possible in and near the watch area. Watches are issued by the Storm Prediction Center for counties when tornados may may occur. The watch area is typically large covering numerious countired or even states.

NWS advises that this is the time to review and discuss your emergency plans and to check supplies and your safe room. Be ready to act quickly if a warning is issued or if you suspect a tornado is approaching. Acting early helps save lives. Storm cells moving through Parsons over the weekend were travelling between 35 mph and 65 mph.

Saturday evening also saw a few Tornado Warnings for parts of Labette County but not the entire City of Parsons. Surrounding areas to the west from Dennis, Thayer, Lake Parsons and Erie had tornado warnings issued by the NWS.

A Tornado Warning means residents should take action immediately and seek shelter, because a tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar, threatening imminent danger to life and property.

The Parsons Police had to activate the tornado sirens once on Saturday night and that was the siren at Lake Parsons due to a Tornado Warning that covered a large area from Thayer to Lake Parsons, which then moved toward Erie.

The Parsons tornado sirens are activated when radar indicates a rotation, observed cloud formations indicative of a tornado or when a tornado has been sighted by trained weather spotter or citizen sighting and cover should be taken immediately. Or when the NWS issues a tornado warning for inside the City.

Tornado sirens are only designed to alert people who are outside or driving. Sirens will rarely penetrate a structure especially as wind noise picks up.  None of these criteria occurred Saturday evening in the City of Parsons.

This is why monitoring tv, radio and weather apps is critical for the community's safety.

City storm shelters were activated and open on Saturday evening. These locations are on the City Web site at:

The City Hall storm shelter was managed by Matt Hoisington, Events and Media Director. He welcomed over 50 individuals into the city hall shelter. By midnight citizens had all but departed to return home.

Parsons School District USD 503 opened city school locations using volunteer staffers. Lincoln School was not opened as there was not a volunteer to open the facility up. The District is recruiting for a reliable neighbor willing to volunteer to open the facility up and be a key holder to manage that shelter. Interested individuals can call the Parsons School District office during office hours to learn more.

While Parsons and the surrounding areas were hit by a series of significant thunderstorms that unlessed heavy rain, wind and lightening strikes. "This incident, while an infrequent weather event this none the less an important event for the City," said Parsons Police Chief Robert Spinks.

"This weather event could have been far worse," according to Lieutenant Jason Ludwig who oversees the police dispatch center along with training, professional standards, the police web site, community service officer, records and evidence. "The Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) provides partial funding to construct reinforced EOC's that all for a consolidation of city department heads to coordinate services and response within the City. An EOC in Parsons could also provide back-up to the County EOC in Oswego."

Residents are encouraged to follow the police on their Facebook page and to sign-up to receive emergency updates by email and/or text alerts by going to .

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