Topeka business prepares for emergency test, severe weather

TOPEKA (KSNT) – The spring and summer months can bring deadly tornadoes to the Midwest.

To help Kansans prepare, the National Weather Service tested the emergency sirens at night instead of during the day on Thursday. Brandon Drake, a meteorologist with the service, said the change was made to create a more realistic timeline for residents.

According to Drake, tornadoes often happen between 3 p.m. and 10 p.m. In Shawnee County, the sirens were tested at 6:30 p.m. The test, Drake said, was considered successful.

The new test time means some businesses focused on the possibility of having more people at their stores if there is a severe weather threat.

“It’s definitely nerve-wracking,” said Megan Courtney, the manager of perishables at Hy-Vee. “You’re kind of like, now I have all of these people here.”

But Courtney and other managers have been trained for severe weather situations and have already had to put that training to use.

“We, actually at this store, had to have everybody go back into the cooler,” she said. “Thankfully, there was no tornado.”

That cooler is located behind the milk and orange juice at the back of the store. Courtney said it can hold more than 100 people but if there is overflow, there is a meat cooler too.

For life-long Kansans, having a plan for severe weather is important no matter where you are.

“It’s always something that is on my mind especially during the spring time and the summer,” said Tricia Vogel.

Vogel teaches math at Washburn Rural and knows how important it is to get everyone to shelters quickly.

She said it makes her uncomfortable when there is no plan in place.

“I think it would have me a little on edge thinking that, what am I going to do. Do I have enough time to head to a place that has a plan,” she said about being out when there may be severe weather.

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