Spring Weather Safety: Planning for Severe Weather, Floods, and Tornadoes
Warmer weather is just around the corner and with that comes the risk of severe weather. It’s important to remember that severe weather can strike anytime. Even if you are familiar with the potential risks, talking to your family and having an action plan in place can be the difference between disaster and tragedy.
Difference between a Tornado Watch and Tornado Warning
A watch means weather conditions are ripe to produce tornadoes. If a watch is issued for your area, monitor weather reports and be ready to take cover in a safe place if the watch changes to a warning.
A warning means a tornado has actually been spotted or indicated by weather radar, thus there is more imminent danger than during a watch. When a tornado warning is issued for your county or community, take cover inside a sturdy building, away from windows, preferably in a basement or storm shelter. Stay there until the warning is lifted.
Something to keep in mind is that tornado sirens will not be activated during a tornado watch. Furthermore, sirens are meant to alert people outdoors and shouldn’t be relied on for those indoors as their only warning system.
Planning ahead for storms
Virtually every local news station now offers an app to stay up to date and receive real time weather alerts specific to their area. Another great option is to purchase a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather radio.
A NOAA-compatible weather radio provides county-by-county alerts for tornado watches and warnings, severe thunderstorms, flash floods and more. NOAA Weather Radios range in cost from $25 up to $100 or more and can be purchased from Amazon, Academy or Walmart among other stores.
Turn around, don’t drown
Tornadoes are not the only severe weather risk during this time. Severe thunderstorms can also cause hazards such as powerful or straight-line winds, hail and flash flooding. Did you know just six inches of moving water can knock you down, and one foot of moving water can sweep your vehicle away?
Flash flooding can occur with little to no warning when heavy rain causes creeks and streams to flow outside of their banks. You should never attempt to walk, swim or drive through flood waters.
Have a tornado safety plan
According to the National Severe Storms Laboratory, while they tornadoes can happen at any time, most tornadoes occur between 4-9 p.m. While the safest place to be is in a storm shelter or basement, not everyone may access to those options. When creating a safety plan in your home consider these tips:
- Bathrooms or small interior closets may be a good option as long as they are not along an outside wall and have no windows
- As close to the ground as possible
- As far inside the building as possible and away from doors, windows and outside walls
Emergencies, especially from severe weather, often happen with little to no warning. Creating a safety plan of action gives you and your family clear directions to follow in the event of a dangerous situation. With a plan in place, your loved ones can know what to do without panic or uncertainty. While it’s common for those of us who deal with tornados and severe storms often to have a lax attitude about them, it only takes one errant storm to cause a tragedy.
Think ahead this spring and stay safe.