In light of the severe weather outbreak last weekend; a refresher on severe weather alerts and what to do in a weather emergency might be in order. I would also like to share a link to a service I use personally that has been very useful. It is a text alert sign up for severe weather, school delays/closings and more. I have found this very helpful; especially when the power has gone out and I’m wondering if I may be affected by severe weather.
A Watch indicates the possibility of severe weather in a relatively broad area. For instance, a tornado watch means conditions are favorable for the development of tornadoes. Go about your normal routines, but watch for threatening weather.
A Warning is issued when severe weather is actually occurring. For instance, a tornado warning means a tornado has actually been sighted or has been indicated by radar. The warning usually encompasses a relatively small geographic area. If a warning is issued for the area in which you live, take cover immediately!
Remember that you can help, too, by reporting all severe weather to your local county sheriff or state police.
TORNADOES AREN’T THE ONLY REASON TO STAY ALERT…
Strong winds of 55 mph or more can cause significant damage even though no tornado is present.
“Downbursts” are columns of air that slam to the earth and spread high winds in many directions. Downbursts can be just as damaging as tornadoes; if such conditions are present, take the same precautions as you would for a tornado.
Lightning claims more lives every year than tornadoes. When lightning is a threat, stay indoors and don’t use electrical appliances. If you’re caught outside, keep a safe distance from tall objects, and try to stay lower than anything nearby. A safe distance from a tree is twice its height.
Mid-afternoon through early evening is the most likely time for a tornado, but they can strike at any time. They can travel at speeds up to 70 miles per hour and contain winds estimated at over 200 miles per hour.
Sometimes an approaching tornado will sound like the roar of a train or airplane. If you see or hear a tornado, take cover immediately. Seek shelter inside, preferably below ground level. Do not waste time opening windows; tornado-force winds will “open” the windows well before the pressure difference can cause any structural damage. Above all, protect your head and lie flat.
Get away from windows, doors and outside walls. Go to the basement. If you have no basement, go to a first floor bathroom, closet or room at the center of the house. If possible, get under heavy furniture and cover your head with blankets or pillows.
Go the lowest floor or basement. Go to small interior rooms or hallways. Stay away from windows and avoid auditoriums, gyms and other areas with wide, free-span roofs.
IN PUBLIC BUILDINGS:
Go immediately to the designated shelter area or to an interior hallway or small room on the lowest level. Stay away from windows. Do not use elevators. Do not go to your car.
Post a lookout. Workers should move quickly to the section of the plant offering the greatest protection in accordance with advance plans.
IN OPEN COUNTRY:
Move away from the approaching tornado at right angles, if possible. If there is not time to move or find suitable shelter, leave your car and lie flat in a ditch or depression. Avoid large trees, metal poles and other electrical conductors.
Mobile homes and trailers should be abandoned immediately! If there is no reinforced building or underground shelter nearby, take cover in a ditch or depression. 40% of tornado-related deaths occur in mobile homes.
I’ve found if you have a plan ahead of time, there is some comfort to be found in knowing what to do when you have to place the plan in action. This is especially true with children; especially if you’ve had severe weather and other emergency drills as a family.