Get Prepared for Severe Weather Season
Your resident weather nerd Kory King here, with this post to help you get prepared for severe weather season. For several years now I've had the opportunity to "chase" some severe weather and pick the brain of KAUZ forecaster John Cameron.
With help from John, online courses, training seminars, and storm spotting, I feel like I've developed a fairly decent working knowledge of how severe storms develop and generally behave. With potential severe weather on the way in the coming months, I thought I would invite John in the studio to give us severe weather 101 along with some tips to keep your family safe.
Listen to my complete interview with Forcaster John Cameron below.
Remember you can always find live weather conditions and radar on our homepage. In the event of severe weather within our listening area, we are prepared to interrupt programming 24/7 to bring you live weather updates.
If you're an iPhone user like myself, here are some of my favorite apps for tracking severe weather.
RadarScope - This app is pretty close to perfect. It will cost you $9.99, more than I would generally pay for an app, but I've come to prefer using this app on my small phone screen over desktop web radars.
WX Alert USA - This app gives you the ability to set locations you would like to receive alerts for, then get text message style push notifications when the National Weather Service issues a watch or warning for your area. This is a little spendy as well at $9.99, so you might opt for some more affordable like the city's free CodeRed service.
Since I mentioned it, here's the link to sign up to get emergency updates from the City of Wichita Falls.
Tornado Safety Tips
In a house with a basement: Avoid windows. Get in the basement and under some kind of sturdy protection (heavy table or work bench), or cover yourself with a mattress or sleeping bag. Know where very heavy objects rest on the floor above (pianos, refrigerators, waterbeds, etc.) and do not go under them. They may fall down through a weakened floor and crush you.
In a house with no basement, a dorm, or an apartment: Avoid windows. Go to the lowest floor, small center room (like a bathroom or closet), under a stairwell, or in an interior hallway with no windows. Crouch as low as possible to the floor, facing down; and cover your head with your hands. A bath tub may offer a shell of partial protection. Even in an interior room, you should cover yourself with some sort of thick padding (mattress, blankets, etc.), to protect against falling debris in case the roof and ceiling fail.
In an office building, hospital, nursing home or skyscraper: Go directly to an enclosed, windowless area in the center of the building -- away from glass and on the lowest floor possible. Then, crouch down and cover your head. Interior stairwells are usually good places to take shelter, and if not crowded, allow you to get to a lower level quickly. Stay off the elevators; you could be trapped in them if the power is lost.
In a mobile home: Get out! Even if your home is tied down, you are probably safer outside, even if the only alternative is to seek shelter out in the open. Most tornadoes can destroy even tied-down mobile homes; and it is best not to play the low odds that yours will make it. If your community has a tornado shelter, go there fast. If there is a sturdy permanent building within easy running distance, seek shelter there. Otherwise, lie flat on low ground away from your home, protecting your head. If possible, use open ground away from trees and cars, which can be blown onto you.
At school: Follow the drill! Go to the interior hall or room in an orderly way as you are told. Crouch low, head down, and protect the back of your head with your arms. Stay away from windows and large open rooms like gyms and auditoriums.
In a car or truck: Vehicles are extremely dangerous in a tornado. If the tornado is visible, far away, and the traffic is light, you may be able to drive out of its path by moving at right angles to the tornado. Otherwise, park the car as quickly and safely as possible -- out of the traffic lanes. [It is safer to get the car out of mud later if necessary than to cause a crash.] Get out and seek shelter in a sturdy building. If in the open country, run to low ground away from any cars (which may roll over on you). Lie flat and face-down, protecting the back of your head with your arms. Avoid seeking shelter under bridges, which can create deadly traffic hazards while offering little protection against flying debris.
In the open outdoors: If possible, seek shelter in a sturdy building. If not, lie flat and face-down on low ground, protecting the back of your head with your arms. Get as far away from trees and cars as you can; they may be blown onto you in a tornado.
In a shopping mall or large store: Do not panic. Watch for others. Move as quickly as possible to an interior bathroom, storage room or other small enclosed area, away from windows.
In a church or theater: Do not panic. If possible, move quickly but orderly to an interior bathroom or hallway, away from windows. Crouch face-down and protect your head with your arms. If there is no time to do that, get under the seats or pews, protecting your head with your arms or hands.
To get a better idea of how weather is tracked behind the scenes, here's a video tour of a National Weather Service forecast office.
You can find all sorts of great resources and information on the National Weather Service website, weather.gov.