In recognition of weather preparedness, Alagasco will be giving away a weather radio every Monday and Wednesday in the month of April. Simply like the “Be a Force of Nature” Facebook post each Monday and Wednesday for your chance to win.
As daily temperatures start to fluctuate more and more, it’s important for us to remember the threats and potential for severe weather. We reached out to our friends at AlabamaWx for some weather preparedness tips.
Whether it is spring, summer, fall, or winter, severe weather can and does happen at any time, anywhere. Even though the Oklahoma tornado outbreak last year was forecasted for days in advance, and warning lead times for the tornado outbreak averaged nearly 20 minutes, there were still many people in the impacted areas that stated they were unprepared. Here are a few simple ways to be better prepared for severe weather.
Know Your Risk: Hurricanes, tornadoes, flash flooding, thunderstorms-every state in the United States experiences severe weather. No one can ever use this excuse and say they did not know severe weather could impact them where they live. The National Weather Service issues all watches and warnings across the U.S. and you can stay informed by visiting Weather.gov to get the latest on weather threats.
Take Action: Take the next step in severe weather preparedness by creating a family communications plan, putting an emergency kit together, keeping important papers and valuables in a safe place.
Be an Example: Once you have taken action to prepare for severe weather, share your story with family and friends on Facebook or Twitter. Your preparedness story will inspire others to do the same.
Be Prepared for these types of severe weather:
Thunderstorms. Thunderstorms are a familiar occurrence in Alabama. In Birmingham, we average 57 thunderstorm days a year. Mobile averages 79 thunderstorm days. Many find storms to be interesting and even thrilling. But they are dangerous creatures that deserve our respect. By definition, thunderstorms contain lightning, the underrated killer. They also produce damaging winds, hail, flooding and tornadoes. Thunderstorms are considered to be severe when they result winds of 58 mph or greater and/or hail ¾ of an inch in diameter or greater. The primary safety rule for dealing with thunderstorms is to be in a well built structure, away from windows. This will protect you from the hail and non-tornadic winds.
Straight Line Winds. Damaging winds occur much more frequently than tornadoes and can be just as damaging. They can exceed 100 mph. Trees and power lines can be knocked down. Mobile homes can be overturned and well built homes and buildings damaged. Downbursts are produced by ordinary pulse thunderstorms, particularly in the summer.
Hail. Hail is most common in the spring in Alabama, when atmospheric conditions make it most likely that the ice can reach the ground. Hail can cause severe damage to automobile and even to buildings, damaging roofs and windows. Hail injuries are rare, but do happen. Hail can also cause death, as happened on March 28, 2000 when a man in Fort Worth, Texas was struck by a baseball sized hailstone. There have been five recorded hail fatalities in U.S. history. So while it is not a frequent killer, it can still be deadly.To be safe, just don’t get caught outside in a thunderstorm.
Lightning. Lightning kills more Americans each year on average than hurricanes or tornadoes. Each year, around 100 people die from lightning and another 500 are injured. Since 1995, 22 Alabamians have been killed and 127 injured by lightning. For safety, if caught outside, go into a sturdy building. Sheds, dugouts and tents are not sufficient. Get inside an enclosed motor vehicle with the windows and doors closed. Avoid open areas, isolated objects or high ground. Stay away from fences, pipes, power lines, bikes and bodies of water. While inside, stay off phones and away from plumbing, electrical equipment. Don’t lie on concrete floors or against concrete walls.
Tornadoes. Tornadoes need no introduction in Alabama. The violently rotating columns of air descend from thunderstorms and can destroy well built homes and buildings. Mobile homes must be abandoned if a tornado is possible Motor vehicles are death traps in tornado winds. In a home or small building, go to an interior room on the lowest floor. Get under something sturdy. Protect yourself from flying debris. If caught outside, get in a ditch or depression and shield your head.
Flooding. If flooding is imminent or occurring, get to high ground. Stay out of flooded areas. Do not drive into areas of standing or moving water. Be especially careful at night when it is difficult to spot flooding conditions.