The simple mention of the word severe, can be quiet scary. How do we know what to do and when? Here are some helpful tips, but ultimately the best way to prepare is to be alert and informed.
Let’s start with the basics:
A severe thunderstorm is a thunderstorm that contains or is able to produce any one of one of the three; hail 3/4 of an inch in diameter or greater, winds 58 mph or greater, and/or tornadoes.
The next step is to understand the difference between a watch and a warning:
A Severe Thunderstorm Watch indicates conditions are there for the development of severe thunderstorms.
A Tornado Watch indicates conditions are conducive for tornado development, and conditions should be monitored closely.
A Severe Thunderstorm Warning indicates a possible imminent situation is occurring, and one of the three criteria are taking place, hail 3/4 of an inch in diameter, winds 58-mph or greater, or tornadoes. Specific details will be presented to the public by one of our Fox 8 Weather team during a severe weather situation.
A Tornado Warning indicates a tornado is occurring or imminent. Action must then be taken, by seeking shelter or going down to the basement. Stay away from windows and put as many walls as you can between you and the tornado. If you do not have a basement, seek shelter in a close room surrounded by walls like a closet or in the bathtub but don’t forget to cover up with blankets or something similar to protect yourself from falling or flying debris.
The best way to determine the threats is to understand the difference between warnings and watches, and to stay up to date by watching your Fox 8 Weather team.
Weather radios save lives and we often tell people to get one. However, shopping for a weather radio is overwhelming and often difficult. So, look for the following features to find a good radio that will fulfill your needs in a severe weather situation.
- Tone Alarm: The National Weather Service will send a 1050 Hz tone alarm before most warning and many watch messages are broadcast. The tone will activate all the receivers which are equipped to receive it, even if the audio is turned off. This is especially useful for warnings which occur during the night when most people are asleep. (Public Alert ™ – required)
- SAME Technology: SAME, or Specific Alert Message Encoding allows you to specify the particular area for which you wish to receive alerts.
- Battery Backup: Since power outages often occur during storms, having a receiver with battery backup can be crucial. However, unless you have a portable unit which you will use away from other power sources, an AC power connection is recommended to preserve battery life. (Public Alert ™ – required for radios, optional for other devices)
Another suggestion is to have a Disaster Supply Kit. Here is what the Red Cross suggests:
According to The Red Cross, you should assemble a “Disaster Supply Kit” to keep in your shelter area. It should contain:
- A first aid kit with essential medication in addition to the usual items.
- A battery-powered radio, flashlight, and extra batteries.
- Canned and other non-perishable food and a hand-operated can opener.
- Bottled water.
- Sturdy shoes and work gloves.
- Written instructions on how to turn off your homes utilities.