Since the severe storm last Monday, the city of Holland has been picking trees and power lines off streets. This gave us a great idea to write a blog about how to stay safe in severe storms. Since we live on the west coast of Michigan we have the beautiful Lake Michigan, it keeps us cool in the summer and warm in the fall. But, it can also intensify storms, this meaning that it can ramp up the power on storms making them more severe. Where we live in Michigan we are susceptible mostly to Flash Floods, Tornadoes, and Thunderstorms. For these 3 major weather events I will give you tips to stay as safe as possible.
Thunderstorms are the most common weather event in the United States. Thunderstorm affects a relatively small area when compared to a hurricane or a winter storm. The typical thunderstorm is 15 miles in diameter and lasts an average of 30 minutes. Despite their small size, ALL thunderstorms are dangerous! Of the estimated 100,000 thunderstorms that occur each year in the United States, about 10 percent are classified as severe. Lightning and wind are the two most dangerous points of a thunderstorm. straight-line winds are any winds not associated with the rotation of
a tornado. Straight-line winds are responsible for most thunderstorm wind damage.
- Have a lightning safety plan. Know where you’ll go for safety and how much time it will take to get there. Make sure your plan allows enough time to reach safety.
- Postpone activities. Before going outdoors, check the forecast for thunderstorms. Consider postponing activities to avoid being caught in a dangerous situation.
- Monitor the weather. Look for signs of a developing thunderstorm such as darkening skies, flashes of lightning, or increasing wind.
- Get to a safe place. If you hear thunder, even a distant rumble, immediately move to a safe place. When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors! Fully enclosed buildings with wiring and plumbing provide the best protection. Sheds, picnic shelters, tents or covered porches do not protect you from lightning. If a sturdy building is not nearby,get into a hard-topped metal vehicle and close all the windows. Stay inside until 30 minutes after the last rumble of thunder.
- If you hear thunder, don’t use a corded phone. Cordless phones, cell phones and other wireless hand held devices are safe to use.
- Keep away from electrical equipment, wiring and water pipes. Sensitive electronics should be unplugged well in advance of thunderstorms. Don’t take a bath, shower or use other plumbingduring a thunderstorm
Straight Lined Winds:
- Straight-line winds can exceed 125 mph!
- It can cause damage equivalent to a strong tornado and can be extremely hazardous to aviation.
- These winds can level trees and small buildings
Although tornadoes occur in many parts of the world, they are found most frequently in the United States. In an average year, 1,200 tornadoes cause 60-65 fatalities and 1,500 injuries nationwide. A tornado is a violently rotating column of air extending from a thunderstorm, to the ground. Tornadoes may appear nearly transparent until dust and debris are picked up or a cloud forms within the funnel. The average tornado moves from southwest to northeast, but tornadoes can move in any direction and can suddenly change their direction of motion. The average forward speed of a tornado is 30 mph but may vary from nearly stationary to 70 mph. The strongest tornadoes have rotating winds of more than 200 mph. Tornadoes can occur at any time of day, any day of the year. Have a plan of action before severe weather threatens. You need to respond quickly when a warning is issued or a tornado is spotted.
- The safest place to be is an underground shelter, basement, or safe room.
- If no underground shelter or safe room is available, a small, windowless interior room or hallway on the lowest level of a sturdy building is the safest alternative.
- Mobile homes are not safe during tornadoes. Abandon mobile homes and go to the nearest sturdy building or shelter immediately.
- If you are caught outdoors, seek shelter in a basement, shelter or sturdy building. If you cannot quickly walk to a shelter:
- Immediately get into a vehicle, buckle your seat belt and try to drive to the closest sturdy shelter.
- If flying debris occurs while you are driving, pull over and park. Now you have the following options as a last resort:
- Stay in your vehicle with the seat belt on. Put your head down below the windows, covering with your hands and a blanket if possible.
- If you can safely get noticeably lower than the level of the roadway, exit your car, and lie in that area, covering your head with your hands
Flash Floods occurs within a few hours of heavy or excessive rainfall. These are dangerous because 6 inches of water can knock a person off their feet and 2 feet of water can sweep a large SUV away.
- Avoid driving, walking, or swimming in flood waters.
- Stay away from high water, storm drains, ditches, ravines, or culverts.
- Move to higher ground.
- Do not let children play near storm drains.
- If you come upon a flood turn around
For more weather safety advice visit Weather.gov