Severe Weather Awareness Week is underway

Posted March 2, 2021 at 1:52 pm

As one of the coldest and iciest winters in south central Kentucky in the past several years finally winds down, hopefully bringing longer daylight and warmer temperatures and the onset of the spring season, there are continued weather threats for Kentucky and much of the region in the weeks and months ahead.

Springtime in Kentucky is a favorite season for many, but also brings with it the threat of severe weather such as strong storms, flooding, lightning and most dangerous of all, tornadoes.

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear has designated March 1-7 as Severe Weather Awareness Week in Kentucky and a statewide Tornado Safety Drill (barring an actual threat of severe weather) was conducted at approximately 9:07 a.m. Wednesday morning, March 3, including here in Clinton County.

During the drill, the National Weather Service (NWS), in partnership with Kentucky Emergency Management (KYEM), the Kentucky Weather Preparedness Committee (KWPC), and Kentucky Broadcasters Association issued a test tornado warning message. This activated weather alert radios, outdoor warning sirens and more, allowing Kentuckians the opportunity to practice tornado safety.

The NOAA weather radio is one of the primary inputs into the Emergency Alert System (EAS) which is the national warning system in the United States. In addition to alerting the public of local weather emergencies such as tornadoes and flash floods, it can be used to alert the public to all hazards.

You can buy NOAA weather radio receivers at many retail outlets.

It is important for the public to know the difference between a severe weather “watch” and “warning.” A watch means severe weather, such as thunderstorms, tornadoes, flooding, etc. is possible, but a “warning” means the danger is imminent or been detected by radar and people should seek shelter immediately when warnings are issued.

The following is severe weather safety tips


Before a tornado

* Have a family tornado plan in place and practice a family tornado drill at least once a year.

* Have a pre-determined place to meet after a disaster.

* Learn the signs of a tornado: dark, greenish sky; large hail; dark, low clouds; and loud roaring sounds.

* When a tornado watch is issued, practice your drill and check your safety supplies.

* Increase your situational awareness by monitoring the weather on, watching local TV, or listening to NOAA Weather Radio.

* Flying debris is the greatest danger in tornadoes; so store protective coverings (e.g., mattresses, sleeping bags, thick blankets, etc.) in or next to your shelter space, ready to use on a few seconds notice.

* Tornado rule of thumb: Put as many walls and floors between you and the tornado as possible!

* If you are planing to build a house, consider an underground tornado shelter or an interior “safe room.”

* In a mobile home, “get out!” Go to a neighbors, underground shelter, or a nearby permanent structure. Most tornadoes can destroy even tied-down mobile homes.

During a tornado

* Wear a bicycle or motorcycle helmet to protect your head and neck or cover your head with a thick book.

* In a house with a basement: Avoid windows. Get in the basement and under some type of study 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, water beds, etc.) and do not go under them. They may fall down through a weakened floor and crush you.

* In a house without a basement, a dorm, or an apartment: Avoid windows. Go to the lowest floor, in a small interior 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. 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 fall.

* In a car or truck: If you are caught by extreme winds or flying debris, park the car as quickly and safely as possible–out of the traffic lanes. Stay in the car with the seat belt on. Put your head down below the windows; cover your head with your hands and a blanket, coat, or other cushion if possible. If you can safely get noticeably lower than the level of the roadway, leave your car and lie in that area. Avoid seeking shelter under bridges.

*In the open outdoors: 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.

After a tornado

* Remain calm and alert, and listen to the radio or TV for instructions from authorities.

* Keep your family together and wait for emergency personnel to arrive.

* Carefully render aid to those who are injured.

* Stay away from downed power lines.

* Watch your step to avoid broken glass, nails, and other sharp objects.

* Stay out of heavily damaged houses or buildings.

* Do not use matches or lighters, there might be leaking natural gas pipes or fuel tanks nearby.

Thunderstorms: It is important to know that every thunderstorm has lightning and strong thunderstorms can bring heavy rain, high winds, hail and possibly tornados.

Before a thunderstorm arrives:

* Learn the signs of an approaching thunderstorm: dark clouds, lightning, and thunder.

* Get informed from the weather radio or television news station.

* If you know a thunderstorm is coming then stay indoors.

* Have an emergency survival kit on hand that includes: flashlights, battery operated weather radio, first aid kit, food and water, essential medicines.

During a thunderstorm

* Stay inside and sheltered, clear of windows, doors and skylights.

* If you are outside when the storm arrives then go inside or into a vehicle.

* If caught outside move away from things that can attract lightning such as trees, fences, utility lines.

* If you are in the water, such as a pool or lake, get out immediately and get inside a sturdy building.

* If no structures to seek shelter in are around, go to a low lying, open area away from trees and poles. Place your hands on your knees with your head between them. And make yourself as small as possible.

After a thunderstorm:

* Wait indoors for at least 30 minutes after the storm has passed.

* Check for any damage or injuries.

* Help neighbors if needed.

* Avoid storm damaged areas.

Lightning: Although most lightning victims survive, people struck by lightning often report a variety of long-term, debilitating symptoms. Most lightning deaths and injuries occur when people are caught outdoors in the summer months during the afternoon and evening.

Here are some things to remember:

Before the storm:

* Adhere to “Severe Weather Watches” and postpone outdoor activities.

* Get inside a home, building, a hard top (not a convertible) automobile.

* Unplug electronic equipment before the storm arrives.

During the storm:

* Avoid contact with electrical equipment or cords. Power surges from lightning can cause serious damage.

* Avoid contact with plumbing. Plumbing and bathroom fixtures can conduct electricity. Do not wash your hands, do not take a shower, do not wash dishes, and do not do laundry.

* Stay away from windows and doors, and stay off porches.

* Use only cordless or mobile phones; do not use “land line” phones.

* Use your battery operated NOAA Weather Radio for updates from local officials.

After the storm:

* Stay indoors for 30 minutes after hearing the last clap of thunder.

* Stay away from storm damaged areas; do not put yourself at risk from the effects of severe thunderstorms.

* Continue to listen to a NOAA Weather Radio or local radio and television stations for updated information or instructions as access to roads or some parts of the community may still be blocked.

If you can see cloud to ground lightning or hear thunder, you are in danger of being struck by lightning and no place outside is safe.Remember, when thunder roars, go indoors.

Flash flooding: 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 are generally accompanied by a deadly cargo of debris and chemicals. The best response to any sign of flash flooding is to move immediately and quickly to higher ground.

Before a flash flood:

* Learn flood warning signs and your community alert signals.

* Plan and practice an evacuation route.

* Locate and check your pre-assembled emergency survival kit.

* Have a family communication plan in case family members become separated from one another during a flash flood.

During a flash flood:

* Turn on your battery operated radio or TV to get the latest emergency information.

* If officials order evacuation, leave immediately!

* If you are outdoors, climb to higher ground and stay there.

* “Never” walk through floodwaters. Just six inches of swift moving water can sweep you off your feet.

* “Never” drive through floodwaters. Just two feet of swift moving water can sweep a car off the road.

* Most flash flood waters recede as quickly as they rise. Remember– “Turn Around, Don’t Drown.”

* If you car stalls anywhere near rising water level, abandon it immediately and climb to higher ground.

After a flash flood:

* Flood dangers do not end when the water begins to recede. Listen to a radio or TV and do not return home until authorities indicate it is safe to do so.

* Inspect foundations for cracks and other damage.

* Stay out of buildings if flood water remains in or around the building.

(The preceding safety tips provided by Kentucky Emergency Management)