WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – With spring comes severe weather, and Kansans know all too well the power it can unleash.
In addition to the WeatheRate Certified Most Accurate team, the KSN Storm Track 3 Weather Center has a dedicated network of trackers watching our atmosphere closely in the field.
KSN covers nearly 80 counties around the clock among Kansas, Nebraska, and Oklahoma. It is a lot of real estate to keep safe. For that reason, KSN’s team expands when severe weather strikes.
Before the first warning, the KSN Storm Trackers take the field becoming the eyes and ears of the storm. Many of KSN’s Storm Trackers, like John Moon III, say they feel a calling to be out in the action.
“One thing I really enjoy whenever I’m out in the field, I just feel like I’m in my element. I feel like I have a sense of belonging, and that’s where I need to be,” said Moon III.
The KSN Storm Trackers come from all walks of life, and what they share is a passion and a fascination with nature.
“It is pretty much an obsession at this point. You can ask my wife,” said KSN Storm Tracker Dustin Hessman. “It does not really matter where weather is going on. I am usually watching it from my cell phone.”
Most trackers, like Dr. Jay Burnette, say there is just something special about what Kansas has to offer.
“The storms out there on the Plains, they can just be super majestic. The structure can just be awe-inspiring,” said Burnette.
KSN Storm Tracker Lisa Dimmitt agrees.
“I know a lot of people don’t think of tornadoes or severe weather as beautiful or amazing, but that’s how I see it,” said Dimmitt.
The weather bug hit most at a young age, like KSN Storm Trackers Julie Lampe and Jacob Honeycutt.
“My dad was civil service, so he tracked storms, he spotted storms. He was a Ham operator, and I used to do that with him growing up, so it kind of is in the blood,” said Lampe.
“I grew up also watching meteorologists on TV and doing severe weather coverage when you know severe weather is coming through the area, and it’s just something that really grabbed my attention and said that I want to do that. I want to be out in the field,” said Honeycutt.
The extension of adding KSN Storm Trackers out in the field helps meteorologists in the KSN Storm Track 3 Weather Center.
“You can go put that on the air and say, ‘this is not just, you know, a tornado warning where it’s radar indicated, we actually see the tornado in progress now’. This is, you know, part of the overall weather enterprise toolkit,” said Burnette.
It can add minutes, giving those in the path of the storm ample time to take shelter when it matters most.
“For everybody who’s watching, when we say take cover, please take cover,” said KSN Storm Tracker Robert Clayton. “I know it’s fun to go outside and film videos of the tornadoes. I understand that I do it, but let the professionals be the professionals.”
As the number of KSN Storm Trackers in the field continues to grow, only adding valuable experience heading into the upcoming severe storm season.
“I’m new to KSN, and so you know, I’m just excited to be part of the team,” said KSN Storm Tracker Mikey Gribble. “I’m really excited to get out there and show what I can do and do my part to support the goal of the team in the spring.”
That goal, keeping you and your family safe. You at home can also help us by safely sharing your storm reports and weather pictures. You can do that here.
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