Last year, Harvey County did not have a single reported tornado, and overall tornado numbers were down across the state.
However, Harvey County Emergency Management coordinator Lon Buller doesn't think the threat for severe weather is any less, and he said milder weather is a trend that can quickly be reversed.
"There's always this cycle that seems to occur," Buller said. "It's anybody's guess what could occur. ... We can have them (tornadoes) any month of the year."
The county's annual tornado drill will take place at 1:30 p.m. March 4, and the sirens will be sounded, weather permitting. Buller said the drill is a good reminder for people to refresh their plan about how they will respond to the threat of severe weather at home, in the office, out shopping, or on the road.
He also encourages community members to consider attending the annual storm spotter training session at 6:30 p.m. March 13 at Lindley Hall in Santa Fe Middle School, the 700 block of Poplar in Newton. Attendees will learn the basics of thunderstorm development, storm structure, and severe weather safety. The training features multi-media presentations and fresh content every year.
While attendance at storm spotter meetings tends to drop if weather patterns have been less severe, Buller hopes it won't take a tragedy like a major tornado to raise awareness again.
He said it's tough to predict what the severe weather outlook will be for the summer; shifts in weather patterns affect the number of tornados that do or don't occur.
Tornados also aren't the only severe weather risk: last summer brought severe flooding to the county, as well as wind storms that created tornado-like damage.
Buller recommends community members purchase a NOAA Weather Radio, which can be programmed to broadcast weather alerts for specific counties.
"Those are probably the best warning devices you can have," he said.
Find severe weather safety handouts at the National Weather Service-Wichita website, www.crh.noaa.gov/ict. Report severe weather damages to the county's emergency management office by calling 284-6910.