Signs of spring are already sneaking into the Tri State. The anticipation of warmer weather and longer daylight hours is something many Tri Staters look forward to in the month of March. The next 31 days and beyond could also bring active weather to the region. The old springtime saying: 'In like a lion out like a lamb', can sometime refer to strong-to-severe storms. Our local National Weather Service (NWS) office in Paducah, KY and Storm Team 44 wants to make sure all Tri Staters are prepared if severe storms strike this season. March 1-20 the NWS is launching several campaigns in the states of Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky to spread the awareness and educate preparedness about severe storms.
There are a couple things to make clear about severe weather. Firstly, the meteorological community defines severe weather as storms that produce winds greater than 58 MPH, hailstones with a diameter larger than 1" (>quarter-size) and rotational thunderstorms that generate tornados. Secondly, severe weather can happen at any time of the year. Although the greatest opportunities are in transitional periods like spring and autumn, which we consider the two severe weather seasons.
When clouds darken, and sirens begin to blare, do you have a plan? What is define as severe weather above could pose a ton of hazards. Strong winds could topple trees, shatter windows and knockout power just to name a few possibilities. As daunting as that sounds, being prepared by having a plan can mitigate any long-term issues or risks during and after a storm. The NWS and Storm Team 44 most important role is to communicate when severe storms are in the area. The two primary ways we inform and prepare the public are issuing severe watches and warnings. Simply put, a watch means to be on alert and a warning means to take action. The best ways to be notified are by downloading the Storm Team 44 App, tuning in on-air/online or via weather radio.
When a warning is issued for your community, there are a few actions you should take. Firstly, get away from all windows and get to the most-interior or lowest part of the building. Severe winds can toss debris strong enough to puncture exterior walls and shatter windows. Secondly, use your arms to protect your head and neck. You can also use nearby furniture and blankets for additional protection. It is also ideal to have bottled water and non-perishable food items stocked in case of long-term power outages.
If you are driving your car when a tornado is nearby the best course of action is to stay low. Remain in your car, secured into your seat belt, and put your head down below the window–covering it with your hands or a blanket if you have one. Or, if you can safely get lower than the level of the roadway, exit your car and lie in that area, covering your head with your hands.