Spring Weather Preparedness
Spring is often host to many dangers, such
as flooding, wildfire, and severe weather. You should know what to do to
protect your family, pets, property and yourself against these dangers.
All thunderstorms are dangerous and can produce tornadoes, lightning, damaging winds, flash flooding, and hail…
Learn to recognize severe weather, develop a plan, and be ready to act when threatening weather approaches. If severe weather threatens, check on people who are elderly, very young, or physically or mentally disabled.
Each year, many people are killed or seriously injured by tornadoes and severe thunderstorms despite advance warning. The National Weather Service considers thunderstorms severe if it produces hail, strong winds, or a tornado. Being prepared combined with timely severe weather watches and warnings could save your life and others you care about. Tornados are nature’s most violent storms. Spawned from powerful thunderstorms, tornados can cause fatalities and devastate a neighborhood in seconds. A tornado appears as a rotating, funnel-shaped cloud that extends from a thunderstorm to the ground with whirling winds that can reach 300 miles per hour. Damage paths can be in excess of one mile wide and 50 miles long. Every state is at some risk from this hazard. Every home should have a plan for what to do in case of a tornado. Signs of an approaching tornado: a dark, often greenish sky, large hail, or a loud roar similar to a freight train.
Tornado Myths and Truths
near lakes, rivers, and mountains are safe from tornados.
should be opened before a tornado approaches to equalize pressure and
Myth: If you
are driving and a tornado is sighted, you should turn and drive at right
angles to the storm.
caught in the open should seek shelter under highway overpasses.
Tornados can occur at any time but, are most likely to occur between 3 and
Lightning cause many fatalities and injuries every year, most occur when people are caught outdoors in late spring and summer months during the afternoon and evening. Lightning often strikes outside of heavy rain and may occur as far as 10 miles away from any rainfall. So keep an eye on the sky. Look for darken skies, flashes of light, or increasing wind. Listen for the sound of thunder. If you hear thunder, you are close enough to the storm to be struck by lightning. Go to safe shelter immediately!
National Weather Service says: When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!
How far away is the thunderstorm?
Count the number of seconds between a flash of lightning and the next clap of thunder. Divide this number by 5 to determine the distance to the lighting in miles.
Plan Ahead! Be aware of the weather before planning outdoor activities or have a way of checking up-to-date weather information. Know the weather forecast…
In recent years people have been killed and injured by lightning while:
Safe Locations to reduce risk when outdoors.
The SAFEST locations during storms are large buildings. A Safe building is one that is fully enclosed with a roof, walls and floor, such as a home, school, office building or shopping center. The Second safest location is an enclosed vehicle. Safe vehicles are hard-topped and fully enclosed, car, SUV, minivan, bus tractor, etc. (Soft topped convertibles are not safe). Close doors and roll up windows. Do not touch metal surfaces.
Under tall trees, convertible cars, car ports, covered but open garages, covered patio, picnic shelters, beach shacks/pavilions, golf shelters, camping tents, large outdoor tents, baseball dugouts, and other small buildings such as sheds and greenhouses.
If Someone Is Struck By Lightning…
People struck by lightning carry no electrical charge and can be handled safely. Call for help. Get someone to dial 9-1-1. The injured person has received an electrical shock and may be burned, both where they were struck and where the electricity left their body. Check for burns in both places. Give first aid. If breathing has stopped, begin rescue breathing. If the heart has stopped beating, a trained person should give CPR.
Strong Winds can exceed 50 mph, some as strong as 100 mph. Strong winds, or straight-line winds are responsible for most thunderstorms wind damage equivalent to a strong tornado and can be extremely dangerous. Blow down of trees is just one of the many examples of strong winds. Be aware of flying debris. Flying debris causes many fatalities and injuries.
Flash floods and floods are the #1 cause of death associated with thunderstorms; there are more than 140 fatalities each year. Six inches of fast-moving water can knock you off your feet; a depth of two feet will cause most vehicles to float.
The effect of snow melting in spring increases flooding risk for many people. Springtime flooding events occur when rainfalls on existing snow-packs, known as a “rain-on-snow event”. Runoff during rain-on-snow events has been associated with mass-wasting of hill slopes, damage to riparian (areas alongside streams) zones, downstream flooding and associated damage and loss of life.
Avoid walking, swimming, or driving in flood waters. Stay away from high water, storm drains, ditches, ravines, culverts, dry washes or other waterways. When it rains, the water can rush through too fast for you to escape. Don’t let children play near storm drains.
Hail often accompanies thunderstorms. Strong rising currents of air within a storm, called updrafts, carry water droplets to a height where freezing occurs. These ice particles grow in size, becoming too heavy to be supported by the updraft, and fall to the ground. Hail can come down ranging from the size of a pebble to a softball. Large hail stones fall at speeds faster than 100 mph.
The National Weather Service and many local media outlets offer electronic alerting services that provide email, RSS feeds or text messages to cell phones, computers or other devices, either directly or via services such as Facebook, Twitter or others. These messages are available by voluntary subscription and can provide local information on weather, including watches.
The list below includes a sampling of various electronic alerting services in Minnesota:
Weather Channel Alerts
Weather Alerts via Text Messaging
Severe Weather Alerts: Severe weather warnings for your area. Stay informed and stay safe with National Weather Alerts sent to your wireless device. Subscription is available for this service.
Daily Forecasts: Get a 36 hour forecast for your local area. Text zip code or city name and 2 letter state abbreviation to 42278 or 78676 for a one time alert. Subscription is available for this service.
Daily Current Conditions: Get current weather conditions for your local area. Text "CURR" + zip code or city name and 2 letter state abbreviation to 42278 or 78676 for a one time alert. Subscription is available for this service.
Rain Alerts: Know the day before if it will rain. Subscription is available for this service.
Extreme Heat Alerts: Know the day before if the heat index will be above a certain temperature. Subscription is available for this service.
Extreme Cold Alerts: Know the day before if the wind chill will be below your selected temperature. Subscription is available for this service.
Icy Precipitation Alerts: Know the day before if there will be icy precipitation. Subscription is available for this service.
Snow Alerts: Know the day before if there will be snow. Subscription is available for this service.
Pollen Alerts: Features pollen levels for grass, tree, ragweed, etc. Just text "pollen" + ZIP code or city name and 2 letter state abbreviation to 42278 or 78676 for a one time alert. Subscription is available for this service.
Severe Thunderstorm Watch: Tells you when and where severe thunderstorms are likely to occur. Watch the sky and stay turned to know when warnings are issued.
Severe Thunderstorm Warning: Issued when severe weather has been reported by spotters or indicated by radar. Warnings indicate imminent danger to life or property to those in the path of the storm.
Tornado Watch: Tornadoes are possible in your area. Remain alert for approaching storms. Know what counties or portion of the counties are in the watch area by listening to your local radio/NOAA Weather Radio or by watching your local television channels.
Tornado Warning: A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. Take shelter immediately.
Flood Watch: Flooding is possible. Tune in to NOAA Weather Radio, local radio station, or television for information.
Flood Warning: Flooding is occurring or will occur soon; if advised to evacuate, do so immediately.
Flash Flood Watch: Flash flooding is possible. Be prepared to move to higher ground; listen to NOAA Weather Radio, local radio station, or television for information.
Flash Flood Warning: A flash flood is occurring; seek higher ground on foot immediately.