Showing posts with label National Weather Service. Show all posts
Showing posts with label National Weather Service. Show all posts

Monday, October 7, 2013

National Weather Service Urges Preparedness as Second Storm Season Approaches

by Anita Foster, Chief Communications Officer, American Red Cross North Texas 

As we saw with the tornadoes and storms that hit the Great Plains this past weekend, severe weather isn't just for spring. In fact, we're entering into what’s known as the second severe storm season of the year. Yes, there really is a second storm season! To learn more about this topic and others, I sat down with Tom Bradshaw, Meteorologist in Charge, at the National Weather Service in Fort Worth, Texas for a conversation about—well, the weather. 
Tom Bradshaw, Meteorologist in Charge, NWS

Winds & Floods

“People need to plan now for upcoming storms that can be just as strong as what we see in the spring,” said Bradshaw. “Typically, we hit a second storm season around September and October. While the storms aren’t as frequent, they can have the same deadly results as we saw this year in Granbury and Moore, Oklahoma.” 

Bradshaw points out that one of the biggest concerns during the fall severe storm season, in addition to wind and hail, is flooding. “We tend to see the biggest flood events happen in the fall, especially when we’re in drought seasons, which we are in now here in this area. Unfortunately, most droughts end in floods.” Stay flood safe this season by following these tips

An Unusual Pattern

Coming from western Oklahoma, Bradshaw is accustomed to communities being ready for big supercell thunderstorms, but here in North Texas, the past two years have been eye-opening. 

“We’ve had everything from large hail, damaging winds, even 10-20 tornadoes at a time here in North Texas just in the past two years,” Bradshaw reflected. “The images of 18-wheelers flying through the air and the neighborhood in Granbury pretty much leveled—that’s the kind of weather that hits this area about once a decade so it’s been unusual.” 

Because Mother Nature has a mind of her own, it’s critical that North Texans do make severe weather plans while the sky is blue. One area to talk about ahead of time is what to do if you’re kids are at school and severe weather is approaching. 

Schools & Preparedness

“After seeing what happened when the tornadoes hit the schools in Oklahoma, it’s clear there aren’t easy answers about what parents should do,” said Bradshaw. “But 99 out of 100 times, schools are safer than most places.” 

Bradshaw encourages everyone to think through what they would do if their kids are in school before the storm approaches. “Talk to the schools ahead of time, be sure they have a tornado plan. Comfort yourself with that information because it will help you to know that the school has your kids best interests at heart and that they know what to do to keep them safe.” He goes on to say that chaos can actually be created if everyone rushes to schools to pick up their kids. “If everyone descends on the schools, suddenly there’s a massive traffic back-up with a storm coming. You don’t want to lose those precious moments to stay safe.” 

If you’re kids school isn’t as prepared as you would like, point them to this reference page to help them be even better prepared before the next storm. 

Driving & Tornadoes

One frequently asked question we get at the Red Cross is if you should get in your car and drive somewhere if a storm is coming and you don’t have a safe shelter. Bradshaw gave great advice on the subject: 

“If you don’t feel safe where you are, and you are confident you have time, get in your car and drive to a safe place.” But he also warns that you should never leave during the storm. Once a tornado warning has been issued, it’s too late to make an alternate plan. “Identify, in advance, exactly where you’re going to go. But when in doubt, stay put.” 

CASA Radar Initiative

While we’re busy preparing as families during National Preparedness Month, the National Weather Service is doing the same as an organization with the new CASA Radar Initiative. In a nutshell, this complex radar system moves radars closer to the ground so that meteorologists can see the evolution of rotation. “We’re hoping to have about four of these new radars by the fall,” said Bradshaw. “By seeing the rotation closer up, we have better tools to warn the public.” 

If you’ve got six minutes to spare and like us, have a fascination with the weather, check out this awesome video about the new CASA radars. It features some of our favorite meteorologists including Rebecca Miller, David Finfrock and Larry Mowry. 

It’s Not “If,” But When

It was eerie to hear Bradshaw state the same thing we do every day at the Red Cross, and it’s why we talk to you so often about preparedness….it’s not a matter of “if” the Metroplex will be impacted by a storm system like the one that hit in Moore, Oklahoma, it’s just a matter of when. 

“The toll that a storm system like that would take on this densely populated Metroplex is immeasurable,” said Bradshaw. “We have well over six million people in the metropolitan area. The impact of an EF-4 or EF-5 tornado would be massive.” 

Before an emergency, work with your family to develop your comprehensive tornado safety plan

Prepare Now

Whether tornadoes, floods, heat waves or the unknown, we can all do our part to prepare. Take some time to create a checklist of things that you and your family should do in the event of an emergency. Things like packing a disaster supplies kit or talking about your family communication plan. If you’re getting ready for work or school in the morning and you hear that severe weather may be possible during the day, stick close to your radio, internet connection or mobile device. Follow @RedCrossDFW, @NWSFortWorth and your favorite meteorologists on Twitter for real-time information during storms. Think about what you’ll do if you’re in a mobile home, caught out on the road or separated from your family. 

The American Red Cross has a wealth of information on how to prepare at You can also visit the National Weather Service to check out the daily weather at

To follow the American Red Cross's response to the tornadoes in Nebraska and Iowa this weekend, follow and on Twitter.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Buckle your seat belts, this may be a rough ride... at least I see a light at the end of the tunnel

I was engaging in my daily ritual of preparedness reading when I stumbled upon this article. It mentions that "a wetter-than-usual winter and a jet stream ripping over the part of the country known as tornado alley could lead to an active spring -- perhaps starting with the strong twister that nicked a small part of western Oklahoma town Monday night."

Wait... it's already tornado season?

Oh me! Oh my! Whatever shall we do?!

For starters, we should run out and buy a weather alert radio.

In yet another glorious partnership, CBS 11 and TXA 21 have partnered with Midland Radio Corporation to offer NOAA weather radios for sale at a reduced price at all 168 Dallas/Fort Worth area Walgreens stores. A portion of the purchase price from each radio sold through June 30 will benefit the local chapters of the American Red Cross.
"We're committed to keeping North Texans safe when severe weather strikes," said CBS 11's chief meteorologist, Larry Mowry. "Timely, accurate information can save lives. Weather radios are especially important when people are asleep, as overnight storms can do and spawn tornados."

I know - fabulous idea! Why didn't I think of it first?

So run out - preferable not in the torrential downpour some of us experienced today - and get your very own weather alert radio, master of preparedness.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Texas Tornado Tears Through Theaters on Thursday (say that five times fast)

The American Red Cross – Dallas Area Chapter blew into a nearby theater last Thursday with the sold out release of “F5.” The 18-minute movie focused on the possibility of an F5 tornado tearing through North Texas. In honor of the success, here are a few tips and facts from the Red Cross fact sheet. The National Weather Service also created a vast tornado Q&A section here.

Most North Texans are familiar with tornados. I lived through the 1993 Mother’s Day tornado in Wylie. Now every time there is a bad storm I tend to grab my flashlight, battery-operated radio, computer and cell phone and head to a closet under my staircase (husband in tow).

Before you pull your mattress off the bed or hide in the closet, it is important to know the difference between tornado watches and tornado warnings. A tornado watch means that tornados are possible in and near the watch area. At this point, it is important to review and discuss your emergency plans, check supplies and your safe room. On the other hand, a tornado warning means a tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. These indicate imminent danger. You should head directly to your basement, storm cellar or an interior room immediately.

Keep an eye out for tornado danger signs such as dark, often greenish clouds. A wall cloud, cloud of debris, large hail, funnel cloud and roaring noise are often consistent with tornados too.

Go indoors; preferably to an underground shelter, basement, or safe room. Since most North Texans don’t have those, a small windowless interior room or hallway on the lowest level of a sturdy building is the safest alternative.

Once you have “weathered the storm” register on the American Red Cross Safe and Well Web site, or call 1-866-GET INFO to let your family and friends know you are safe.

And now for your viewing pleasure, F5 (in two parts).