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Alert Systems Worked Properly During Kansas City Tornadoes

The Kansas City, Mo., weather alert system is driven by the National Weather Service. When the weather service issues a tornado warning, fire dispatchers in Kansas City turn on the sirens.

Trees and structures were damaged near 95th and Belinder early Wednesday by winds from a possible tornado that traveled a path through Johnson County that followed 95th Street.
Emily Curiel/
(TNS) - Some residents said they received little warning as multiple tornadoes formed in the  Kansas City  metro area overnight, leaving downed trees and more than 65,000 people without power.

The alert systems were working properly, according to Christopher Carroll, emergency planner with Kansas City’s Office of Emergency Management.

In less populated areas, it’s easier to see a rotation forming and a tornado approaching, he said, leaving people with more time to prepare.

Tornadoes form very quickly, Carroll said, and there isn’t always time to give significant warning.

Since the tornadoes also developed overnight, there were few people awake to watch for cloud rotation.

“From the time the radar or even spotters notice rotation in the clouds, one could form within seconds,” Carroll said. “And obviously when it’s 1:30 in the morning, a lot of people are asleep — there’s not a lot of eyes.”

The Kansas City, Missouri , weather alert system is driven by the National Weather Service , Carroll said. When the weather service issues a tornado warning, fire dispatchers in Kansas City turn on the sirens for the affected area, typically within one minute of receiving the alert.

The sirens sound for 10 minutes during a warning, compared to three minutes for monthly tests. They are then silenced and reactivated if there is another warning is issued.

Emergency alert systems were working as designed last night, Carroll said.


On Tuesday afternoon, the National Weather Service in Kansas City forecasted severe storms for the metro area overnight.

Around 6:30 p.m. , the weather service issued the first severe thunderstorm watch for parts of northern Kansas.

Between 8 p.m. and midnight, a series of severe thunderstorm warnings were issued for northern Kansas and Missouri . These warnings included forecasts for 60 mph winds and quarter-sized hail.

At 10:14 p.m., the weather service extended and expanded a severe thunderstorm watch to 5 a.m. The NWS also said tornadoes were possible, along with 75 mile mph winds and hail measuring two inches.

The weather service said at 1:20 a.m. that a tornado-producing storm was located over Prairie Village , moving east at 45 mph.

A minute later, a tornado warning was issued for northeastern Johnson County and southwestern Jackson County.

At 1:25 a.m., NWS Kansas City tweeted that a “radar confirmed” tornado near Leawood was moving east. Around the same time, a tornado warning was issued for Kearney and Excelsior Springs.

At 1:36 a.m., scanner traffic reported a tornado touchdown at Interstate 35 and Highway 92 in Kearney.

At 2:01 a.m., NWS Kansas City said the severe threat was “winding down” for much of the metro.

No injuries or major structural damage have been reported from the storms, a Kansas City police dispatcher said at 3:30 a.m.

The area hit hardest by the storm ran from 95th Street in Lenexa to Buckner , in eastern Jackson County, Missouri. About five or six small tornadoes formed as the storm’s line moved east, meteorologist in charge Julie Adolphson said, but that number was still being confirmed by a team out surveying.

The storm caused downed trees and power lines, which prompted road closures including 95th Street between Mission Road and Lee Boulevard in Leawood and Pflumm Road between Santa Fe Trail Drive and 95th Street in Lenexa.

Cleanup began early Wednesday in Johnson County and Kansas City.

Ty Vaughn stood in her yard off Wornall Road, near Colonial Presbyterian Church — which saw considerable damage to its roof — and assessed what needed repair, including some damage to her home’s gutter and shingles. The worst of it was a huge tree limb that landed in her yard, but missed her car.

She was concerned with how little notice they were given.

“The warning here was really bad,” she said, later adding: “That is not enough time; I mean, that’s like a Joplin scenario where they had no warning.”

©2022 The Kansas City Star. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.