Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Severe Weather Awareness Week

This is Severe Weather Awareness Week in Nebraska, and regular blog readers will know this is when I encourage lecture you to get a Weather Band radio. I wouldn't be sitting here typing this had I not invested in one. When the tornado hit us in 2008, we lived three miles out a county road from town-there's no possible way we would have heard the sirens going off. Mudslides, flood, high winds, hurricanes,wildfires, lightning-no matter where you live, there's something you'll want a few moment's notice of-it can save your life. We worry over a million unlikely things that can harm us (plane crashes, terrorist attacks) but when it comes to weather, we tend to meet it with a shrug. I know I did. Seeing my neighbour's barn in a tree, and cattle stranded two fields away changed my reaction to storm warnings.
This is typical of what you will hear on a weather radio. Today's warning was a test, and clearly noted.

We live closer to the sirens now.

Danny has written a preparedness guide to give you the basics. I encourage you to check with your local authorities, and develop a plan of your own. Put together a kit, have a family meeting spot, and do regular drills. Knowing what to do in the event of an emergency is the best antidote to panic. You can panic afterward.

                                                        Severe Weather Awareness

This week is Severe Weather Awareness week in Nebraska. Because of this, I think that this would be a good time to discuss the hazards of severe weather, and a few preparedness tips to know in case of severe storms in your area.

First up, tornadoes. These are funnel-shaped rotating clouds that come from thunderstorms. Tornadoes can occur anywhere, but they are generally concentrated in to one region, the great plains of the United States. Everyone should prepare, but those in the plains should pay special attention to tornado preparedness.

    In a tornado, If you are inside:
  • Head for the lowest level of your house , and go to a room that lacks windows .
  • Cover your head with a pillow or thick object to protect from debris
    If you are outside:
  • Get into nearest ditch and cover head if no indoor shelter is available.
Ditch is safer than mobile home, leave mobile homes in tornado.

Another major threat is lightning, one of the most common of severe weather phenomena. If indoors, you should avoid use of corded devices, and also avoid using sinks, showers, and baths. If outdoors, take shelter indoors, as no open area is safe. You can also, if no indoor area is available, take cover in a metal-topped car with windows up. As a last resort, take cover in a low area away from water, metal objects, and cliffs.

In low-elevation areas, and some dips in high elevation areas, flash floods are a threat. These can suddenly flood previously dry areas as high-precipitation thunderstorms roll in. If you are affected by flash flooding, avoid trying to travel in to flooded areas, and if an evacuation notice is issued, Do so IMMEDIATELY! If driving after a flood, avoid going in to water. Remember, “TURN AROUND, DON'T DROWN!
To prepare in case of any of these effects , Construct an emergency kit that includes:
  • 1 gallon of water per person per day
  • Flashlight
  • Replacement flashlight batteries
  • Weather radio
  • First aid kit
  • Non-perishable food
  • Pillow for shelter during tornado.
  • Medications
  • Keys
  • Change of clothes with sturdy shoes
  • Important documents
I hope that this guide will help you stay safe in sever weather situations, and ensure that you are not worried about being left helpless in the case of any or all of these three severe weather events. The best way to prevent panic, is knowing what to do.

For those that require illustrations:

 Boarded-up after the tornado.
 View from back door. Trees and parts of barn scattered in walkway. Downed power line on left.
 Storm cellar beneath the mudroom. We were stuck in there as debris fell atop the door. Got rescued about an hour later.
 Part of the hay barn hanging from a tree.
 Hail damage.

 Plaster melted from the ceiling from the force of wind and rain. I *Still* find plaster inside my china cabinet no matter how many time's I've cleaned it. It poured in through cracks, and year after year powdery bits work through. My glass bowl survived. You can see Danny's little bib and empty ice cream dish-we'd just finished giving him dessert when the radio went off.
The large tree lifted from the roots. I heard this fall-I thought a car had over-turned or something like that. When I saw the damage the next morning it was hard to believe we got out of it as unscathed as we did.

There were two tornadoes that night-one hit in "Town" three miles down the road, and one that came up the county road knocking down power poles like toothpicks. We got the second one. Our side of the road took most of the damage, and people opposite us on the road had only minimal wind damage. Funny how nature works. 

This concludes my yearly, "Get a weather band radio" lecture. We now return you to regular blogging. 


Sue said...

Surviving one Tornado would be enough to have you on tender hooks when those weather warnings come in. So lecture away, and stay safe if anything crappy like that comes your way again. We don't get things like that down here in NZ, the odd mini Tornado, that you would consider a strong wind!

Mim said...

Wowm that is extreme weather! The worse we get here is a bit of flooding, though I've just read about the 1927 flood in the US, where an area the size of Scotland was covered. You chaps need to be tough out there...

Curtise said...

Goodness, you really do get some Big Bad Weather in your neck of the woods. Like Mim, we don't have anything other than very occasional flooding or the wind taking off a tile or two... xxx

Goody said...

Strangely enough, instead of being freaked out by the tornado, Danny became interested in weather (we have a home weather station, that sort of thing). He was only three at the time, but he does remember bits of it-like being put in charge of holding the torch in the storm cellar.

I don't think I could manage earthquakes and tsunamis-you guys are REALLY tough!


But when you get the rare snowstorm, you do it up big! That Christmas storm a few years ago comes to mind.

So many of our floods are made worse by infrastructure neglect, or errors in calculating how much water to release upstream during the spring thaw. I know the water has to go somewhere, but building a few levees along the path downstream wouldn't hurt.

Isn't it interesting how an island gets less weather extremes? Sitting out there in the Atlantic, it really shouldn't work out that way, yet it does.