Mid-April to mid-June is the primary severe weather season for the Texas Panhandle. While thunderstorms can bring much needed moisture to our region, they can also bring heavy rains, damaging hail, deadly lightning, high winds, and the potential for destructive tornadoes. Preparedness is the key to ensuring you are ready for severe weather season…
- Make a Plan: Take time to think through how you will respond to a severe weather threat. You should avoid going outside when severe thunderstorms threaten because of the many hazards associated with these powerful storms. To prepare for the threat of a tornado, identify a location where you and your family will take shelter when a warning is issued. Storm shelters or basements are the best locations, but if you don’t have access to these a small interior room on the lowest floor without windows is your best alternative. Manufactured homes and vehicles are not safe locations and you need to have another location identified. If you have to take shelter, covering yourself with pillows, blankets, and even wearing a helmet increases your protection should your location be impacted. Plan ahead not just at home, but also at work, school, church, and any location that you frequent so you will be prepared to take action.
- Build a Kit: National guidelines recommend individuals and families have a 72 hour supply of food, water, medications, and other emergency supplies as a baseline for a disaster supply kit. Your disaster kit should also include other items, such as important documents, prescriptions, medical supplies, and a first aid kit.
- Stay Informed: One of the most important things you can do is stay informed of potential or on-going emergency situations. One of the best tools available is the NOAA All-Hazards Weather Radio system operated by the National Weather Service in conjunction with local emergency management. In the event of a Severe Thunderstorm or Tornado Warning, the NOAA All-Hazards Weather Radio system is activated on a county level to alert you and your family to the weather situation. In addition, local television and radio, outdoor warning sirens, smart-phone applications, Suddenlink cable cut-in system, and other systems are available to alert you to severe weather. Having multiple means to receive warnings of an emergency will ensure that you have as much advanced notice as possible. Always remember, when a warning is issued, take action immediately to protect yourself and your family.
Preparedness is the key to communities successfully weathering a disaster. Individuals and families that make a plan, build a kit, and stay informed will be prepared and minimize the impacts of potential disaster situations. Additional preparedness information can be found throughout our webpage or through FEMA at http://www.ready.gov/.
Drought and dry conditions throughout this area have once again created the risk for wildfires. Careless use of fire can dramatically increase the chance of a wildfire, which can quickly spread across dry vegetation and threaten homes and businesses that are in the vicinity.
Wildfires often begin unnoticed and spread quickly. Every second counts! Reduce your risk by preparing now. Talk with members of your household about wildfires, how to prevent them, and what to do if one occurs.
Help prevent wildfires and be ready in case one does occur near you. The following are some things you can do to prepare for a wildfire:
- Build an emergency kit and make a family communication plan. Post fire and other emergency telephone numbers.
- Remove any debris, dead shrubs or bushes form around your home.
- Keep yards cut short.
- Clean rain gutters and remove any debris from your roof.
- Clear items which could burn from around the house. Wood piles, lawn furniture, barbecue grills, tarp coverings, etc should be moved outside of your defensible space.
- Be sure that large fire vehicles can access your home and clearly mark all driveways with your address.
- Report hazardous conditions that could cause a wildfire.
- Teach children about fire safety.
- Plan escape routes in a car and on foot.
- Know your neighbors, their skills, and what their plans will be when danger is imminent.
- Always obey the law and check for local burn bans before setting a fire.
- Know what to do with any animals on the property and how you will rescue them quickly.
Some good resources for more information:
March 2-8, 2014 – Severe Weather Awareness Week
Spring marks the time of year when severe storms increase in frequency bringing devastating hazardous weather such as tornadoes, lightning, large hail, damaging winds, and flash floods to the Texas Panhandle. This is also a time when outdoor activities increase, placing residents at an even greater risk.
Weather in the form of severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, or flash floods can strike very quickly. Once a tornado approaches or flash flooding develops, it is too late to start working on a preparedness plan! When severe weather develops and warnings are issued, you must take immediate action to protect yourself.
The purpose of Severe Weather Awareness Week is to draw attention to the many aspects of severe weather which affect all of us, focus on safety, and learn what to do when hazardous weather threatens. Each day, National Weather Service offices in Texas will be focusing on safety topics through Twitter:
- Sunday – @NWSSanAngelo – Types of Thunderstorms
- Monday – @NWSFortWorth – Tornadoes
- Tuesday – @NWSAmarillo – Hail
- Wednesday – @NWSHouston – Microbursts
- Thursday – @NWSSanAntonio – Flash Flooding
- Friday – @NWSLubbock – Lightning
- Saturday – @NWSBrownsville – Family Preparedness
For more information on severe weather and severe weather safety, please review the preparedness information on this website or visit the National Weather Service.