With warmer weather and increasing moisture in the air, severe weather season is upon us. The FOX 26 weather team wants to make sure you are prepared should dangerous weather approach.
Know the difference between a watch and a warning
■ Watches: The National Weather Service issues a watch when conditions are favorable for hazardous weather events to develop within the watch area. Some watches include Severe Thunderstorm Watch, Tornado Watch or Flash Flood Watch. When a watch is issued, you should be alert for changing weather conditions, make initial preparations for the potential for hazardous weather and listen for possible warnings.
■ Warnings: When the National Weather Service issues a warning for your area, it is intended to alert you that hazardous weather is occurring now or is imminent. You need to act now! Some warnings include Severe Thunderstorm Warnings, Tornado Warnings and Flash Flood Warnings. You should take immediate action to protect life and property from the impending weather event when a warning is issued.
The National Weather Service considers a thunderstorm severe if it produces or has the potential to produce one or more of the following: 1) hail at least one inch in diameter, 2) winds of 58 mph or stronger,or 3) a tornado. If one or more of these criteria is met, a warning will be issued and you should take appropriate safety measures.
If a tornado warning is issued for your area, and you are:
■ In a home or small building: Go to the basement (if available) or to an interior room on the lowest floor, such as a closet or bathroom. Upper floors are unsafe. If there is no time to descend, go to a closet, a small room with strong walls or an inside hallway. Wrap yourself in overcoats or blankets to protect yourself from flying debris.
■ In a school, hospital, factory or shopping center: Go to an interior room or hall on the lowest floor. Stay away from glass-enclosed places or areas with wide-span roofs such as auditoriums and warehouses. Crouch down and cover your head. Don’t take shelter in halls that open to the south or the west. Centrally located stairwells are good shelter.
■ In a high-rise building: Go to interior small rooms or halls. Stay away from exterior walls or glassy areas.
■ In a mobile home: Abandon immediately. Most deaths occur in cars and mobile homes. If you are in either of those locations, leave them and go to a substantial structure or designated tornado shelter.
■ In a vehicle: If possible, drive away. If escape is impossible, get to a sturdy shelter. As a last resort, you need to make a personal decision whether to ride it out in your car hunched down below the windows with your seat belt on, or to lie flat in the nearest ditch or depression with your hands covering your head.
■ Outside with no suitable structure nearby: Lie flat in the nearest ditch or depression and use your hands to cover your head.
■ Additionally, absolutely avoid buildings with large free-span roofs like gymnasiums, grocery stores, industrial buildings and church sanctuaries. Stay away from west and south walls. Remember, seek shelter on the lowest level, go to the smallest room and to the center part of the building.