This past week:
"Severe weather, ranging from tornadoes to hail to flooding,
is cutting a wide swath across the United States. A large front
that brought unseasonably cold temperatures to the Rockies and northern
plains is now producing thunderstorms in the Midwest. Texas and
Louisiana have also been hard hit by storms and flooding."
Winter storms may still
be trying to show their strength in parts of the country, but we
are reminded that the summer storm season is just beginning. While
some states have Severe Weather Awareness Weeks in February or March;
others have theirs in April as the threats of tornadoes and severe
thunderstorms increase. Still others have Lightning Safety Awareness
Weeks in June. As for May: "President Bush has declared May
16-22, 2004, to be National Hurricane
For access to the Severe
Weather Events Calendar by state for 2004, visit:
Winter storms are trying
to hang on....
Tornadoes and floods are beginning to claim lives.
It seems as though much of the country is dealing with some form
of severe weather this May. To add to that:
are predicting an above-normal Atlantic hurricane season. At a news
conference Monday in Houston, Texas, NOAA officials said the season
outlook is for 12 to 15 tropical storms, with six to eight systems
becoming hurricanes, and two to four of those major hurricanes....
Homeland Securitys Federal Emergency Management Agency officials
joined NOAA in urging Gulf and Atlantic Coast states to be prepared
for an active season, which runs from June 1 through November 30."
What does it mean to "be
prepared"? What if you don't live in an area that is touched
by hurricanes? What is similar about the preparation process (and
what is different) when dealing with different types of severe weather?
For what forms of severe weather do you need to "be prepared"
during these upcoming months?
"History teaches that
a lack of hurricane awareness and preparation are common threads
among all major hurricane disasters. By knowing your vulnerability
and what actions you should take, you can reduce the effects of
a hurricane disaster.... Hurricane hazards come in many forms: storm
surge, high winds, tornadoes, and flooding. This means it is important
for your family to have a plan that includes all of these hazards.
Look carefully at the safety actions associated with each type of
hurricane hazard and prepare your family disaster plan accordingly.
But remember this is only a guide. The first and most important
thing anyone should do when facing a hurricane threat is to use
"By knowing your vulnerability
and what actions you should take, you can reduce the effects of
a hurricane disaster." This is true for hurricanes. It is also
true for floods, tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, and many other
possible natural disasters and severe weather conditions.
"Over the last 30
years, more deaths have occurred from a hurricane's freshwater (rain)
flooding than any other hurricane hazard. Both Hurricanes AND Tropical
Storms are capable of creating this type of flooding. Children must
stay out of flood waters. Just six inches of fast-moving flood water
can sweep a person off his or her feet. No one should ever play
around high water or storm drains. Only a few inches of standing
water may hide downed electrical power lines. In summary children
should NEVER play in flooded areas where hidden sharp objects, electrocution
and sewage are serious hazards."
You may never see a hurricane
where you live, but floods can still possible hazards.
"...The best protection
during a flood is to leave the area and go to shelter on higher
...Flash flood waters move at very fast speeds and can roll boulders,
tear out trees, destroy buildings, and obliterate bridges. Walls
of water can reach heights of 10 to 20 feet and generally are accompanied
by a deadly cargo of debris. The best response to any signs of flash
flooding is to move immediately and quickly to higher ground.
...Floods and flash floods occur within all 50 states. Communities
particularly at risk are those located in low-lying areas, near
water, or downstream from a dam.
...Flooding has caused the deaths of more than 10,000 people since
1900. Property damage from flooding now totals over $1 billion each
year in the United States."
Other severe weather?
"When you think about
hurricanes you can not ignore tornadoes. Most (70%) landfalling
hurricanes spawn at least one tornado. More than 20 tornadoes were
reported during Hurricane David (1979). Most (90%) of the tornadoes
that do form, occur on the right front side of the hurricane in
the direction of its forward motion. Hurricanes may spawn tornadoes
up to three days after landfall, although most of the tornadoes
occur on the day of landfall, or on the next day. Being tornado
smart means having a safe place go and having the time to get there.
Determine the safest place in your home ˜ an interior room, a hallway,
but never in a mobile home."
Flooding and tornadoes
are associated with hurricanes, but they do not need hurricanes
to strike. They are more likely to strike on their own.
in Utica, Ill., Thursday were turning to cleaning up, after a tornado
tore through the small town, killing eight people. When they saw
the twister, the town's residents bolted for the safest places they
could find. For some, it was the basement of a local tavern, housed
in a century-old building.... Several people from a nearby trailer
park were among those who sought shelter Tuesday night in the basement
of the Milestone, Mayor Fred Esmond said. 'They heard it on the
radio. Some of them went to the tavern for safety, and it just so
happened ...' Esmond said, his voice trailing off.... The tornado
was a category F-3, which typically creates wind speeds of 158 to
206 mph, said Andrew Krein, a meteorologist with the National Weather
Service. It was one of dozens that smashed through the Midwest.
Indiana also was hard hit, and Iowa, Nebraska and Oklahoma reported
twisters as well. A lightning storm hit Arkansas on Wednesday, striking
a high school junior who died on his way to school."
The following website includes
information about what you should--and should not--do when there
"Summer is the peak
season for one of the nation's deadliest weather phenomena˜ lightning.
Safeguarding U.S. residents from dangerous lightning is the goal
of this Website. The campaign is designed to lower lightning death
and injury rates and America's vulnerability to one of nature's
deadliest hazards. In the United States, an average of 73 people
are killed each year by lightning. In 2003, there were 44 deaths.
That's more than the annual number of people killed by tornadoes
or hurricanes. Many more are struck but survive. However, they often
report a variety of long-term, debilitating symptoms, including
memory loss, attention deficits, sleep disorders, numbness, dizziness,
stiffness in joints, irritability, fatigue, weakness, muscle spasms,
depression, and an inability to sit for long. Lightning is a serious
danger. Through this site we hope you'll learn more about lightning
risks and how to protect yourself, your loved ones and your belongings."
What forms of severe weather
are you most likely to encounter this summer where you live? What
different types of weather might you need to prepare for if you
plan to travel?
For every form of severe
weather, there is a list available for what you should and should
not do. However, no list can account for every detail in each unique
situation, and there are often misconceptions about what is the
"Myth or Misconception
#1 .... The southwest corner of a basement is the safest location
during passage of a tornado. The truth is that the part of the home
towards the approaching tornado (often, but not always, the southwest)
is the least safe part of the basement, not the safest. ...Professor
Eagleman's objective study showed that the south side and southwest
corners, the direction of approach for the Topeka tornado ,
were the least safe areas, and the north side of homes were the
safest .... both on the first floor and in the basement. He repeated
the study after the Lubbock, Texas tornadoof May 11, 1970, and the
results were even more striking. The southwest portion of the houses
were unsafe in 75% of the damaged homes .... double the percentage
of unsafe areas in the northeast part of homes. As a general rule,
people in basements will escape injury despite the extreme devastation
above them. Being under a stairwell, heavy table, or work bench
will afford even more protection."
Questions of the Week:
Where can you find information about severe weather in your area?
What do you need to know in order to be prepared and make educated,
common sense decisions in the face of possible severe weather? From
what reliable resources can you get this information? What do you
need to have (in your home and/or in your car) in order to be ready
when severe weather comes? What should you know before traveling
this summer? How can you prepare and plan without becoming paranoid?
When do you need to work around the weather, but go about your life?
When do you need to change (or stop) your routine and focus on being
Please email me with any ideas or suggestions.
Note: Due to increasing amounts of SPAM sent to this account, please include "QOW" in the subject line when sending me email.
I look forward to reading
what you have to say.
Health Community Coordinator
Access Excellence @ the National Health Museum