Severe Weather Awareness Week just ended for the state of Iowa, so we’re going to recap everything you need to know to stay safe during a severe weather event.
Monday: Severe thunderstorms
Severe thunderstorms are storms that produce at least one inch sized hail and/or wind gusts over 58 mph. Thunderstorms can also produce lightning, tornadoes and flash flooding.
A severe thunderstorm watch means that a severe thunderstorm is near the watch area or conditions may be favorable for its development. Watches tend to cover many counties.
A severe thunderstorm warning means danger to life and property may be imminent. A warning is triggered when trained observers have confirmed hail or damaging wind gusts or it is indicated by radar. This is communicated to the public in an effective way to allow residents to seek shelter either from outdoors, windows or mobile homes. Warnings can encompass a smaller area, compared to a watch.
Tuesday: receipt of warning information
In the event of severe weather, you want to have multiple ways to receive warnings. Outdoor sirens are for outdoor use only. You cannot rely on them alone to protect you. Our Storm Track 7 weather app can send alerts directly to your phone. A NOAA weather radio is also a great tool for the home and can wake you up in the middle of the night for a tornado warning. Turning to your local news station for continuous coverage is also a great source of information when severe weather is heading your way.
Have a plan in place for how you will receive warnings before an event occurs.
A tornado is a violently rotating column of air extending from the base of a thunderstorm. Although small in size, they can be deadly and tear homes, buildings and fields apart.
Pay attention to all tornado warnings issued by the National Weather Service and communicated by local meteorologists. A tornado emergency is the most severe of the alerts and means there is a violent tornado on the ground that can threaten human life and property.
Tornadoes are classified as an afterthought. The EF scale rates them based on the damage they create.
If you live in the house and are under a tornado warning, go to the lowest level of your home, such as a basement or indoor closet. The bathroom is the second best place. Get in the tub and pull a mattress or something over you for protection.
If you are stuck in a vehicle and a tornado is heading your way, find the nearest shelter, such as a fast food restaurant or store. If you’re not near anything, find a ditch. Do not pass under an overpass. Contrary to popular belief, this is not a safe space. It acts like a blower and can suck you in right away.
Thursday: family preparation
Having a plan in place for how you will react to inclement weather is essential to surviving Mother Nature. As a family, prepare an emergency kit. It’s all you need to survive an emergency and potentially days after an event. The kit may include non-perishable food, water, blankets, flashlight, batteries, chargers and a first aid kit.
Friday: Flash Floods
Flooding is one of the deadliest hazards caused by severe storms. More than half of flood-related drownings occur due to driving in floodwaters. Walking in standing or flooded areas can be just as dangerous. 6 inches of fast-moving water can knock an adult over, while a foot of water can sweep a vehicle away. Remembering the slogan “Turn around, don’t drown” can save your life.