Any Texan knows that spring means it’s time for storm season. But not everyone knows how to be as prepared as possible in the event that severe weather strikes. We looked to the Weather Channel’s severe weather expert Dr. Greg Forbes for tips on how to stay safe during a tornado:
Where to Go
Evaluate the best place for you to go in your home or office. If you don’t have a tornado shelter or basement because those are less common in Texas, the next best thing is an interior room without windows or a closet without exterior-facing walls. If you live in a high-rise building, see if you can go to a neighbor’s apartment if needed. And when it comes to an office or school, ask the appropriate people if there’s already a plan in place.
If there is a tornado coming, do not get in the car. Some people think they can outrun a tornado, but their course can change direction without warning.
What to Do If You’re on the Road
If you’re driving when a tornado strikes, make every effort you can to find shelter. If you can’t find shelter, find a ditch as far away from your car as possible, get down and cover your head. If you don’t make it out of your car, do the same—get down and cover your head. One tip – never hide under an overpass. It’s a widely spread myth that overpasses provide coverage, but they can make the situation even more dangerous by creating a wind vortex.
The Terms You Need to Know
According to the National Weather Service, these are the official terms used for severe weather events:
- Severe thunderstorm watch: Conditions are conducive to the development of severe thunderstorms in and around the watch area. These storms produce hail of ¾ inch in diameter and/or wind gusts of at least 58 mph.
- Severe thunderstorm warning: Issued when a severe thunderstorm has been observed by spotters or indicated on radar, and is occurring or imminent in the warning area. These warnings usually last for a period of 30 to 60 minutes.
- Tornado watch: Conditions are favorable for the development of severe thunderstorms and multiple tornadoes in and around the watch area. People in the affected areas are encouraged to be vigilant in preparation for severe weather.
- Tornado warning: Spotters have sighted a tornado or one has been indicated on radar, and is occurring or imminent in the warning area. When a tornado warning has been issued, people in the affected area are strongly encouraged to take cover immediately.
Ways to Stay Alert
The best way to stay safe is to stay informed. Whether you watch the news or not, follow your favorite meteorologist or news channel on Twitter, or download weather apps on your phone that have alert systems. These are great resources to keep you in the know.
As you prepare for storm season, we also have to prepare for storm season. The potential for severe weather means that we need to be ready to supply the community with blood in case there is a natural disaster. Schedule a donation at your local Carter BloodCare to help us save lives this season.