Winter may not be over, but we are already entering into tornado season, according to the National Weather Service (NWS), which states that March through June to be the most active months for tornadoes.
Not only is it a good time to refresh yourself with storm safety, but it’s also imperative to come up with a plan of action in case you are faced with a dangerous storm.
The level of storms can be confusing. Severe thunderstorms are capable of producing hail that is an inch or larger or wind gusts over 58 mph. Hail this size can damage property such as plants, roofs and vehicles. Wind this strong is able to break off large branches, knock over trees or cause structural damage to trees. Some severe thunderstorms can produce hail larger than softballs or winds over 100 mph. Thunderstorms also produce tornadoes and dangerous lightning; heavy rain can cause flash flooding.
According to the NWS, a watch means that conditions are favorable for a tornado to occur. A warning means that a tornado has been seen or picked up by radar. A warning requires you to take shelter and brace for a potential tornado.
A tornado warning is issued when a tornado has actually been sighted or has been picked up on radar in your area. This means that you need to take shelter immediately.
Things you can do to prepare for a storm according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
Watch the skies and check the forecast for severe weather: Listen to local news or a Weather Radio to stay informed about severe thunderstorm watches and warnings.
Sign Up for Notification Apps: Sirens are meant for those who are outside. You can’t always hear sirens when you are inside. Sign up to receive weather notifications on your phone.
Create a Plan: Have a family plan that includes an emergency meeting place and related information. Pick a safe room in your home such as a basement or an interior room on the lowest floor with no windows. Get more ideas for a plan at: https://www.ready.gov/make-a-plan.
Hold Drills: Conduct periodic family drill regularly so everyone knows what to do if a severe storm occurs. Make sure all members of your family know to go there when severe thunderstorm warnings are issued. Don't forget pets if time allows.
Prepare Your Home : Keep trees and branches trimmed near your house. If you have time before severe weather hits, secure loose objects, close windows and doors, and move any valuable objects inside or under a sturdy structure.
Help Your Neighbor: Encourage your loved ones to prepare for severe thunderstorms. Take CPR training so you can help if someone is hurt during severe weather.
At Your House: Go to your secure location if you hear a severe thunderstorm warning. Damaging wind or large hail may be approaching. Take your pets with you if time allows.
At Your Workplace or School: Stay away from windows if you are in a severe thunderstorm warning and damaging wind or large hail is approaching. Do not go to large open rooms such as cafeterias, gymnasiums or auditoriums.
Outside: Go inside a sturdy building immediately if severe thunderstorms are approaching. Sheds and storage facilities are not safe. Taking shelter under a tree can be deadly. The tree may fall on you. Standing under a tree also put you at a greater risk of getting struck by lightning.
In a Vehicle: Being in a vehicle during severe thunderstorms is safer than being outside; however, drive to closest secure shelter if there is sufficient time.
For more information about storm safety, visit www.cdc.gov.