Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Know the Signs, Know the Difference

Disaster does not discriminate and nobody is immune. That fact has been made painfully clear in less than one month with record setting tornado outbreaks and destruction. Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee and now Missouri are just a few of the areas in the Midwest that have experienced such devastation. Rural or urban, a hospital or a barn, it didn’t matter - the storms hit where they hit. And, yes, it can happen here too.

As these storms come into the area, you need to know the warning signs severe thunderstorms and tornadoes sometimes give and the difference between a watch and a warning. This knowledge could be the difference between getting to safety in time and getting caught unprepared.

Watch: Severe weather or tornado is possible in and near the watch area. Review and discuss your emergency plans, and check supplies and your safe room. Be ready to act quickly if a warning is issued or you suspect severe weather is approaching. Acting early helps to save lives!

Warning: Severe weather or a tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. Warnings indicate imminent danger to life and property. Go immediately underground to a basement, storm cellar or an interior room (closet, hallway or bathroom).

Tornadoes are deadly and can strike without warning. Keep listening to your weather radio for potential tornado warnings in your area. If a warning is issued for your area, head to a sturdy shelter immediately or if you notice any of the following tornado danger signs:
  • Dark, often greenish clouds—a phenomenon caused by hail
  • Wall cloud—an isolated lowering of the base of a thunderstorm
  • Cloud of debris
  • Large hail
  • Funnel cloud—a visible rotating extension of the cloud base
  • Roaring noise
A thunderstorm is considered severe if it produces hail at least one inch in diameter or has wind gusts of at least 58 miles per hour. Every thunderstorm produces lightning, which kills more people each year than tornadoes or hurricanes. Heavy rain from thunderstorms can cause flash flooding and high winds can damage homes and blow down trees and utility poles, causing widespread power outages.

Refer to these tips to help you prepare and keep you safe at home, at work and on the road.

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