Your Severe Weather Safety Guide: What you need to know before the storm hits

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(WKBN) – The possibility of severe weather is most common in the Valley during the spring and summer, but severe weather can happen at any time during the year.

The best time to prepare for severe weather is before the storm arrives.

WHAT IS A WATCH, WARNING AND ADVISORY?
One of the first ways to be prepared is to understand the terminology we use.

A severe weather watch is issued as a “heads up” that severe weather will be possible in the near future. When a watch is issued for your location, that’s your cue to look for forecast updates. Have your severe weather plan ready to go and know where to shelter.

A severe weather warning is issued when severe weather is happening now. When the warning is issued, take shelter immediately. Once you are safe, then look for weather updates.

An advisory is issued when a hazardous event is happening or will be happening soon. Advisories are typically used for less serious events than warnings. The weather event could still cause significant inconvenience and if you’re not careful, it could lead to situations that may threaten life or property.

You can check to see if there are any active weather alerts here.

WHO ISSUES SEVERE WEATHER ALERTS?

Weather alerts can only be issued by the National Weather Service. The National Weather Service provides weather forecasts and warnings all across the country. Once the NWS issues a weather alert for the Valley, Storm Team 27 communicates that information to you on air, online and on the Storm Team 27 Weather app.

It is important to know where your home is on a map. That way, you know if your location is being impacted by severe weather.

HAVE A WAY TO GET WEATHER ALERTS

The Storm Team 27 Weather app will alert you when there is dangerous weather in your location. Before the storm arrives, make sure your phone is charged so you are able to receive alerts.

Other sources of weather alerts include NOAA weather radio, WKBN 27 First News TV coverage, and the Emergency Alert System on TV and radio.

WHAT TYPE OF WEATHER SHOULD I BE PREPARED FOR?

The Valley can see a variety of different types of severe weather.

Tornadoes – A tornado is a violently rotating column of air. Wind speeds in the tornado could be as high as 300 mph.
If a tornado warning is issued for your location, here are a few safety reminders from the National Weather Service:
GET IN – If you are outside, get inside. If you’re already inside, get as far into the middle of the building as possible.
GET DOWN – Get to the lowest floor possible.
COVER UP – Flying and falling debris is a storm’s number-one killer. Use pillows, blankets, coats or helmets to cover up and protect your head and body from flying debris.

Severe Thunderstorms – In order for a thunderstorm to be considered severe, it must produce hail that is 1 inch in diameter or larger, or winds of 58 mph or greater. Lightning is not needed for a thunderstorm to be severe.

Lightning – Lightning can strike as far as 25 miles away from its parent thunderstorm. Lightning strikes kill about 50 Americans each year. If you hear thunder, you are likely within striking distance of the storm. Just remember — “When thunder roars, go indoors.”

Flooding – Heavy rain is something that our area commonly sees in the spring and summer months. According to the National Weather Service, flash flooding is our greatest weather threat locally. Flash flooding can be caused by a number of reasons but is most often due to extremely heavy rain from thunderstorms. In our area, flash flooding is most common in June, July and August.
Flash flood watches and warnings are issued for flooding that occurs within a short period of time, generally six hours or less.
Flood watches and warnings are issued for flooding that occurs gradually and can last a couple of days.

When it comes to flooding safety, there are words to remember — “Turn around, don’t drown.” It only takes six inches of fast-moving flood water to knock over an adult. It takes only two feet of rushing water to carry away most vehicles, including pickups and SUVs.

HAVE A SEVERE WEATHER PLAN

The best way to stay safe during a storm is to plan ahead. On a day when Storm Team 27 tells you severe weather will be possible, there are a few things you’ll want to think about:

  • Plan where you want to be. You may have to change your plans so you aren’t caught outside during a storm. The goal is to be near a location you can shelter in during a storm.
  • Plan what you will need with you. Do you have the right clothes or shoes in the event that you are caught in a storm? Is your phone charged so you can receive important weather alerts?
  • Plan for your family. Make sure your family is aware that severe weather will be possible at some point throughout the day. Don’t forget about pets.

Everyone at home should know what the severe weather plan is. It is a good idea to practice the plan twice a year. Make sure kids know what to do even if an adult isn’t home.

HAVE A SEVERE WEATHER SAFETY KIT

In the event that you would need to shelter at home, it is important to have a severe weather safety kit.

Things to include in your kit:

  • Water and nonperishable foods
  • Cell phone charger
  • First-aid supplies
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Blankets
  • Extra clothes
  • Protective shoes

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