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Severe Weather

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Local watches and warnings

Severe Weather Tips

· A tornado is a violently rotating column of air, pendant from a cumuliform cloud or underneath a cumuliform cloud, and often (but not always) visible as a funnel cloud.

· Tornadoes can produce winds over 250 mph.

· Tornadoes can last from several seconds to more than an hour, however, most tornadoes last less than 10 minutes.

· Tornadoes can move in any direction, but most move from southwest to northeast, or west to east.

· Tornadoes can occur at any time, but are most likely to occur in the afternoon and early evening.

· Tornadoes can occur anytime of year, but often occur more frequently in the spring and early summer.

· On average, tornadoes kill about 60 people each year with most of the deaths from flying or falling debris.

· A waterspout is a tornado over water, meaning non-supercell tornadoes over water. Waterspouts are common along the southeast U.S. coast and can happen over seas, bays and lakes worldwide. Although waterspouts are always tornadoes by definition; they don't officially count in tornado records unless they hit land. They are smaller and weaker than the most intense Great Plains tornadoes, but still can be quite dangerous. Waterspouts can overturn small boats, damage ships, do significant damage when hitting land, and kill people. The National Weather Service will often issue special marine warnings when waterspouts are likely or have been sighted over coastal waters, or tornado warnings when waterspouts can move onshore.


· strong, persistent rotation in the cloud base

· flying dust or debris on the ground near the cloud base

· hail or heavy rain followed by a dead calm or a fast, intense wind shift

· loud, continuous rumble or roar



· Evacuate a mobile home immediately!

· Get in the basement (if you have one)

· Go to a small center room (ex: bathroom or closet), or in an interior hallway on the lowest floor

· Avoid windows

· Get under some kind of sturdy protection (heavy table or work bench), or cover yourself with a mattress, sleeping bag, or pillow.

· If in a car, park and get into a sturdy building.

· If outside, lie flat and face-down on low ground, protecting the back of your head with your arms. Get as far away from trees and cars as you can; they may be blown onto you in a tornado.


· Keep your family together and wait for emergency personnel to arrive

· Carefully render aid to those who are injured

· Stay away from power lines and puddles with wires in them; they may still be carrying electricity!

· Watch your step to avoid broken glass, nails, and other sharp objects. Stay out of any heavily damaged houses or buildings; they could collapse at any time.

· Do not use matches or lighters, in case of leaking natural gas pipes or fuel tanks nearby.

· Remain calm and alert, and listen for information and instructions from emergency crews or local officials.


1. Areas near lakes, rivers and mountains are safe from tornadoes.
FALSE. No place is safe from tornadoes.

2. Windows should be opened before a tornado approaches to equalize pressure and minimize damage.
FALSE. Leave windows alone. The most important action is to immediately go to a safe shelter.

3. If you are driving and a tornado is sighted, you should seek the best available shelter and get out of your car as soon as possible. TRUE. Many people are injured or killed when remaining in their vehicles.

4. People caught in the open should not seek shelter under highway overpasses.
TRUE: Overpasses, ditches, and culverts may provide limited protection from a tornado, but your risk will be greatly reduced by moving inside to a strong building. So if at all possible, take shelter in a sturdy reinforced building if at all possible.

· What is Lightning? A visible electrical discharge produced by a thunderstorm. The discharge may occur within or between clouds, between the cloud and air, between a cloud and the ground or between the ground and a cloud.

· How hot is lightning? Lightning can range from 18,000 to 60,000 degrees Fahreneit. So it's hot stuff!

· How long can a lightning bolt be? Recent research shows that lightning can travel 60 miles or more. The longest bolt they have seen to date was 118 miles long in the Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX area.

· What is a  bolt from the blue ? It is a cloud-to-ground lighting flash that typically comes out of the back side of the thunderstorm, travels a relatively large distance in clear air away from the storm, and then angles down and strikes the ground. These lightning flashes can travel more than 25 miles away from a thunderstorm and can be especially dangerous because they appear to come from clear blue sky.

· Can lightning hit the same place twice? Yes it can, contrary to popular belief. This is more likely to happen if it's a tall, pointy, isolated object. The Empire State Building was once used as a lightning laboratory, since it's hit nearly 25 times per year.

· Do rubber tires on a car protect you from lightning? No, it's the metal roof and sides of the car that protect you. It's not the rubber tires, which means that convertibles, motorcycles and bikes offer no protection.

· How many people are killed each year by lightning? An average of 67 people are killed by lightning each year.

· How many people are injured each year by lightning? Roughly 300 people are injured by lightning each year.

· How do lightning injuries affect people? Lightning tends to be a nervous system injury and may affect the brain, autonomic nervous system and the peripheral nervous system. When the brain is affected, the person often has difficulty with short-term memory, coding new information and accessing old information, multitasking, distractibility, irritability and personality changes. If you or someone around you is struck by lightning, you should seek medical attention immediately!

· What are the odds of me being struck by lightning? The odds of being struck in your lifetime (estimated to be 80 years) are 1 in 3000. You still need to be careful though and remember to follow the safety tips below!


· Watch for darkening skies, flashes of light, or increasing wind. Listen for sounds of thunder.

· If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to the storm to be struck by lightning. Seek shelter immediately.

· Monitor weather forecasts.

· Find shelter in a building or car. Keep car windows closed.

· Avoid telephone lines, metal pipes, the telephone and electrical appliances.

· Avoid taking a shower/bath or running water for any other purpose.

· Draw blinds and shades over windows. This will prevent any shattered glass (if windows are broken during the storm) from blowing into the house.

· Stay away from storm-damaged areas.

· Listen to the radio for information and instructions.


· Go to a low-lying, open place away from trees, poles or metal objects.

· Squat low to the ground, place your hands on your knees with your head between them and make yourself the smallest target possible.

· If you are in or on the water, get to land and find the nearest shelter immediately.

**Remember the 30/30 Rule**

The first 30 means if you can count to 30 between flash and bang, then you are in danger and should seek shlter immediately!

The second 30 means wait 30 minutes after the last flash or thunder to before you can resume your outdoor activities.

· Flooding is an overflowing of water onto land that is normally dry. It can happen during heavy rains, when ocean waves come onshore, when snow melts too fast, or when dams or levees break. Flooding may happen with only a few inches of water, or it may cover a house to the rooftop. The most dangerous flood event, the flash flood, happens quickly with little or no warning; other flooding events occur over a long period and may last days, weeks, or longer.

· There are different kinds of flooding. There is a brief descriptions of each below:

· A river flood occurs when water levels rise in a river due to excessive rain from tropical systems making landfall, persistent thunderstorms over the same area for extended periods of time, combined rainfall and snowmelt, or an ice jam.

· Coastal flooding occurs when a hurricane, tropical storm, or tropical depression produces a deadly storm surge that overwhelms coastal areas as it makes landfall. Storm surge is water pushed on shore by the force of the winds swirling around the storm. When this advancing surge combines with the normal, it can cause the water to rise 15 feet or more.

· Inland flooding occurs when tropical cyclones move inland, because they are typically accompanied by torrential rain. If the decaying storm moves slowly over land, it can produce rainfall amounts of 20 to 40 inches over several days. Widespread flash flooding and river flooding can result.

· A flash flood is a rapid rise of water along a stream or low-lying urban area. Flash flooding occurs within six hours of a significant rain event and is usually caused by intense storms that produce heavy rainfall in a short amount of time. Excessive rainfall that causes rivers and streams to swell rapidly and overflow their banks is frequently associated with hurricanes and tropical storms, large clusters of thunderstorms, supercells, or squall lines. Other types of flash floods can occur from dam or levee failures, or a sudden release of water held by an ice jam. Heavy rainfall in the mountains can cause downstream canyon flooding. This type if flooding is so dangerous because it can occur with little or no warning.

FLOODS KILL!! (Here are the facts to prove it!)

· Flooding kills more people each year than tornadoes, hurricanes and lightning! The 30-year national average for flood deaths is 127.

· Water is very powerful and its force is often underestimated!

· Six inches of fast-moving water can knock you off your feet.

· Two feet of water can carry away most automobiles.

· Nearly half of all flash flood deaths occur in automobiles as they are swept downstream. Most of these deaths take place when people drive into flooded highway dips of low drainage areas.

· Remember the National Weather Service's Slogan: "Turn around, Don't drown!" If you can't judge the depth of the water you are about to drive into, turn around and go another way!


1. Do Not Walk Through Flowing Water. Drowning is the number one cause of flood deaths and most occur during flash floods. Remember, six inches of moving water can knock you off your feet. Use a pole or stick to make sure that the ground is still there before you go through an area where the water is not flowing.

2. Do Not Drive Through a Flooded Area. More people drown in their cars than anywhere else. Don't drive around road barriers; the road or bridge may be washed out. Remember, TURN AROUND, DON'T DROWN!

3. Stay Away From Power Lines and Electrical Wires. Electrocution is also a major killer in floods. Electrical current can travel through water. Report downed power lines to your utility company or local emergency manager.

4. Turn Off Your Electricity When You Return Home. Some appliances, such as television sets, can shock you even after they have been unplugged. Don't use appliances or motors that have gotten wet unless they have been taken apart, cleaned, and dried.

5. Watch for Animals, Especially Snakes. Small animals that have been flooded out of their homes may seek shelter in yours. Use a pole or stick to poke and turn items over and scare away small animals.

6. Look Before You Step. After a flood, the ground and floors may be covered with debris suuch as broken bottles and nails.

7. Be Alert for Gas Leaks. Use a flashlight to inspect for damage. Don't smoke or use candles, lanterns, or open flames unless you are sure that the gas has been turned off and the area has been aired out.

8. Carbon Monoxide Exhaust Kills. Use a generator, camping stoves or other gasoline-powered machine outdoors. Fumes from charcoal are especially deadly -- cook with charcoal only outdoors.

9. Clean Everything That Get Wet. Floodwaters have picked up sewage and chemicals from roads, farms, factories, and storage buildings. Spoiled food and flooded cosmetics and medicines are health hazards. When in doubt, throw them out.

**Note On Flood Insurance**

Most homeowner's insurance policies do NOT offer protection against flood losses. For information about flood insurance, call your local insurance agent, or call the National Flood Insurance Program at 1-888-379-9531.