Local and state officials stress that now is the time to think about not just spring but the unstable and destructive weather it sometimes brings. A bit of preparedness, they point out, can make a big difference.

Jackson County’s annual severe weather symposium – free, open to the public and attended by hundreds – is coming up March 16. It’s at 9:30 a.m. at Crown Pointe Church, 5950 Lakewood Way. That’s in Lee’s Summit, immediately south of Independence. The doors open at 8:30, so people can register and browse at the displays.

The event includes weather spotter training, and those scheduled to appear include Channel 9 meteorologist Bryan Busby and Jenni Pittman of the National Weather Service.

“It’s a good opportunity. Everybody enjoys it,” said Mike Curry, the county’s director of emergency preparedness.

This is Severe Weather Preparedness Week in Missouri, with an emphasis on tornadoes, lightning, wind and hail, flooding and general preparedness.

A statewide siren test is set for 10 a.m. today – but the Jackson County and the rest of the metro area have theirs scheduled for Wednesday morning, weather permitting.

Safety officials generally suggest having a good number of supplies – water and some food, first-aid kit, flashlights and fresh batteries and other items – in your vehicle and in a secure place in your home. The American Red Cross, preparemetrokc.org and other organizations have extensive lists of items to consider.

Officials also recommend having an all-hazards radio (also called a weather radio) and making sure that you have more than one means of getting the word quickly when a severe-weather alert or warning is posted. The Red Cross and others have apps for that.