March 6th through 11th is Severe Weather Awareness Week. With that in mind, we wanted to touch on a few things today, with more articles coming throughout the week.
Knowledge is power. One of THE most important things in any severe weather, be it a hailstorm, windstorm, duststorm or even snowstorm (Hey, it COULD happen!) is “Have at LEAST two ways of receiving warning data from the National Weather Service.”
Don’t depend on sirens. Sirens are used to warn those who are outdoors, and may not be loud enough to awaken you in the middle of the night. NOAA Weather Radio is like a smoke detector that can warn you anytime, both indoors and outdoors. This radio will produce a loud sound when a tornado warning is issued, and aftermarket accessories to supplement the alarm tone with visual alerts (strobe lights) or even bed shakers exist for those with hearing impairment, or those who could literally sleep through a tornado. I highly recommend investing in a NOAA Weather Radio. They’re not expensive, easy to program, and the alarm is loud enough to wake Rip Van Winkle should the hatches need to be battened down. Personally, I have never had a problem with the Sangean CL-100, but Midland also makes a fine radio. (We’ll help you program it if you post the brand and model in the comments too)
Broadcast media is usually the next best bet for accessing vital information, be it radio or one of the ‘local’ Abilene stations.
Cell phone apps with the ability to alert you (Weather Channel, Weather Underground, etc) will come in handy as well. Some phones have the ability to send alerts via the Wireless Emergency Alerts system (WEA) but on many occasions, my phone hasn’t received them or has gotten them delayed. I would not recommend WEA as your first line of defense. Rather, Brownwood participates in the Code RED system which will call your phone and alert you to severe weather. It’s free, and it’s worth it. http://www.brownwoodtexas.gov/183/CodeRed
The point is, there’s no such thing as too much information when your life and that of your family depends on it!
Now, speaking of this information, it’s a common problem to confuse Watch and Warning. When a Severe Thunderstorm WATCH is issued, it means conditions are favorable and severe weather might occur. This is the time to plan ahead. Secure outdoor furniture, park your car in the garage, keep an eye on the radar.. etc
A WARNING however, means that there is an active threat to your area and you should take further precautions depending on the situation. We’ll cover more of that later this week. Here’s a handy reminder (one for laughs, one for actual data)
We hope this series of articles will keep you aware and informed.
Our plan is to publish the following this week;
Monday (You just read it)
Tuesday (Severe Thunderstorms)
Friday (Warm Weather Safety tips, resources for further learning)