Spring is arriving, and with it Severe Weather season. You know what that means. Hail, extreme winds, torrential downpours, and the devastating tornado. Severe weather can be both beautiful to behold and terrifyingly unpredictable. Here are some tips to keep you safe this Spring, whether you are in pursuit of the perfect storm or standing guard in your own community.
1. Have a plan. Write it down.
It's the nature of emergencies that catch most people unprepared and paralyzed by important decisions. Don't be one of them. Think through what you and your family or your organization will do in response to severe weather, flash flooding, or an approaching tornado. Make this plan before disaster strikes. Write it down and communicate it clearly to family and co-workers. If you have small children, considering drills.
For families, a plan should include emergency contact numbers including nearby relatives, locations of shelters, and meeting places in case family members become separated and cannot meet at home.
2. Cultivate a personal awareness for severe weather.
Veteran storm chasers and forecasters know intuitively when severe weather is looming, before there is even a cloud in the sky. That's because they have honed their abilities through years of personal observation. Humid air and strong southerly winds are telltale signs that the atmosphere is ripe for thunderstorms.
In the modern age of technology and mobile devices, it's easy to overlook the obvious. But for millenia, human beings have learned to read the sky for threatening weather.
The best way to develop this sense is to take an interest in forecasting and meteorology. Sign up for Skywarn Storm Spotter training with your local National Weather Service office (most are conducting classes right now). And last but not least, go outside and observe.
3. Have multiple sources of weather information.
Everyone living in Torando Alley should have a NOAA weather radio. Period. Radios with county-level alarms can be purchased for less than $20. Some of these include hand-crank batteries and flashlight in case of power outage. Also consider a robust weather software system such as Weather Defender which can monitor a broad selection of weather variables for your exact lat/lon position, giving you more situational awareness and lead time.
As an amatuer radio operator, I also encourage people to get their HAM license so that you can also broadcast in an emergency, instead of just listening. HAM radios have proven to be the most resilient form of communication, shining particularly bright during emergencies when traditional communications become overloaded.
I am a big proponent of redundancy when it comes to weather emergencies. Whatever you choose, have multiple systems.
Operations Officer / KD4GTS