From hail and mudslides to thunderstorms and tornadoes, severe weather takes many different forms in the spring months. By knowing the extent of hazardous weather, you will be able to prepare yourself and protect your family and property.
Having a storm readiness plan in place saves valuable time if severe weather strikes. Advance planning may even limit the damage caused by harsh weather. Take the opportunity now to choose the best shelter in your home, and make sure your family knows where it is. Choose a meeting place to gather after the storm to ensure that everyone is safe and accounted for.
While severe weather can strike at any time, the following types of weather hazards become more prevalent during spring:
1. Floods. Floods are among the most frequent and costly natural disasters in terms of human hardship and economic loss. Most flooding occurs when the volume of water in a river or stream exceeds the capacity of the channel. In the spring, heavy rains and melting snow can greatly increase the risk of flooding. To assess your susceptibility to flooding, consult flood hazard maps for your
community. If you live in a high‐risk area, consider elevating your furnace, water heater and electric panel. Install “check valves” to prevent floodwater from backing up into the drains of your home and seal walls in your basement with waterproofing compounds.
2. Mudslides. Mudslides develop when water rapidly accumulates in the ground and results in a surge of water‐saturated rock, earth and debris. As with floods, the most important precaution you can take is to determine your susceptibility to mudslides. Consult a geotechnical expert (a registered professional engineer with soils engineering expertise) for advice on reducing landslide problems and risks. Local authorities should be able to help you contact a geotechnical expert.
3. Tornadoes and High Winds. A tornado is a violently rotating column of air extending from the base of a thunderstorm down to the ground. While tornadoes have been reported in every state, in areas where tornados are frequent it’s important to know the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning. A tornado watch is issued when weather conditions favor the formation of tornadoes—for example, during a severe thunderstorm. A tornado warning is issued when a tornado funnel is sighted or indicated by weather radar, and you should take shelter immediately.
For all weather hazards, maintain an emergency pack with a battery powered flashlight, a radio, tools for emergency repair, food supplies, a first‐aid kit, blankets and extra clothing. Store important identification and insurance documents in a fire-and-water‐proof safe. Be sure to fill your car’s gas tank when severe weather is incoming. Planning ahead will help you be ready when severe weather hits.
Source: McWane Spring 2014 Did You Know? Newsletter