DISCUSSION: As we get closer to the heart of the primary severe weather season across a good portion of North America, there is no question that many people mind’s will naturally become more concerned about Spring-time weather patterns. Having said that, there are still most definitely things which you can do to prepare and remain ready for the severe weather season in good measure.
First and foremost, making sure that you have an adequate 5 to 7-day supply of food and water is a very good plan to have in any situation and just duplicate that amount if you have a small to larger family. A good trick is to buy enough for what you will need, but not overbuy so there is still enough to go around for others both in your area and throughout your larger community around you. As far as everything else is concerned, it can also be optimal to buy or rent an external back-up power generator (if your finances can allow) since when severe thunderstorms impact any given region, power less can be widespread and have a long duration. Thus, there is generally no such thing as making too few preparations, but by the same token it is not good to overdue it so there is enough sustainability across the retailer and grocery sectors of the economy both on regional and local scales for everyone to safely get their fair share.
With all of that considered, another good aspect of any good severe weather readiness plan to have in mind before severe weather strikes your home region is to always know where you and anyone you live with would go in the event that a tornadic thunderstorm is approaching your area. Remember, that going out to your car and trying to outrun a storm is NEVER a sound or reasonable idea since some severe thunderstorms have been known to travel at up to 50 to 60 mph which is faster than cars in nearly all residential areas and even some state highway roads. Thus, you ALWAYS need to have a plan for staying put and know the innermost room in your home and quickly being able to grab a mattress to protect yourself in the innermost room of your home or apartment from any potential debris or broken glass.
The bottom line is that when it comes to anticipating, preparing for, and being ready for severe weather, time is not always a luxury which you have so acting in order to be prepared now is ideal. That way, you can be ready at a moment’s notice within 24 to 48 hours if a dangerous situation should potentially unfold.
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© 2020 Meteorologist Jordan Rabinowitz
Preparing for an Emergency: Staying Weather-Ready
About the globe, people experience weather every day, no matter where they are. Be it a sunny day with a light breeze, a chilly morning with frost, the passing rainstorm, or maybe a slightly windy day, every area is affected by the weather. Though, on occasion, the weather can become more prominent, maybe even iminent in our everyday lives when it turns dangerous, or even life-threatening. Suddenly, something that is normally tranquil and unharming presents an imminent threat, leaving one to make quick decisions and take action in order to preserve and protect life. In these moments, having a plan or course of action, may be what saves lives and prevents injury. Though, how exactly can one prepare for the threat of dangerous weather when we cannot necessarily control it?
Although we cannot control the weather, one thing we may have control of is our plan of action in the event of severe weather. By having a plan, one may feel more assured that they will be alright when severe weather arises. A plan might include a variety of steps or procedures including: A designated area in which to take shelter, emergency contacts, a designated meeting place after the severe weather has passed, etc. Depending on the type of severe weather, this plan may vary as well. In the event of a hurricane, one may plan to shelter in an area outside of the expected hurricane strike zone, and may plan to shelter there with friends or loved ones who may also be affected by the hurricane days ahead of the actual storm. In the event of tornadoes- severe events that allow for less preparation and require immediate action- one may designate a room in their house in which to take shelter from a tornado, and have supplies ready to go in that same room.
Aside from designating a place of shelter, part of the plan may include a list of supplies as well. Depending on the individual these supplies may vary, especially if the individual has health issues requiring certain medications, therapies, assistance, etc, though, there are baseline supplies that each and every household should have ready to go. Items such as battery operated flashlights, battery-operated emergency radios, blankets, phone power banks, basic first-aid supplies (bandaids, disinfectant, gauze, medical tape), a whistle to signal for help, dust masks, and extra batteries are just a few of the items one may have prepared and ready to go in a “go-bag” in the event of an emergency. Of course, non-perishable food items such as canned vegetables, cured meats, fruit preserves, and all-other shelf-stable items are necessary. In fact, per FEMA guidelines, it is recommended that a minimum of a three-day supply of food and water be prepared for each individual in the event of a disaster. A three day supply of water for one person is noted as one gallon per person, per day, or three gallons total.
When severe weather strikes, there is no doubt that it can leave one feeling scared, disoriented, worried, and nervous. Weather can turn and change quickly, sometimes seemingly unpredictably, which is why it is of utmost importance for one to be emergency, or weather-ready. By remaining weather-ready with a “go-bag” or an emergency supply box at one’s disposal, alongside a plan of action, one may lessen their worry and remain confident that they have planned and prepared for when severe weather rolls in.
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© 2020 Weather Forecaster Alexis Clouser
While taking an effort to stay informed about the current news, weather is one item that is frequently changing. Most weather models run four times a day, every six hours, and are based upon the current conditions when the model is running. Forecasts that are shown in the morning can easily differ from what is shown in the evening. For instance, a model can run when it’s cold and snow covered in the morning and drift towards a cold forecast, but if the snow melts by the afternoon, the following run will paint a different picture. Most weather forecasts that are received while on-the-go from your mobile device are refreshed based on recent weather model runs. This could lead to deceiving forecasts that look odd at first glance and further the need to stay up to date.
First, a look at the different types of forecasts:
Short-Range Forecasts are forecasts that range from zero to 36 hours which provide information on the nearest term happening. In this timeframe, examples of what you would see include: storm warnings, sharp temperature drops, high waves/marine warnings, or aviation conditions. Meteorologists often update these forecasts with extensive discussions as often as the model runs.
Photo: Forecast provided from the National Weather Service including near-term warnings and small descriptions -- Captured on March 29, 2020. (Courtesy of the National Weather Service)
Medium-Range Forecasts are forecasts that range around three to seven days. These forecasts can determine temperature trends or expectations throughout the work-week. These forecasts are useful for sharing when an umbrella is necessary or when you can expect sunshine again. The confidence lowers in medium-range forecasts and there is more variability to be expected.
Photo: Extended forecast that displays expectations for the work week, and are subject to change as forecast models run. (Courtesy of Wunderground)
Long-Range Forecasts are forecasts that typically depict a probability of temperatures and precipitation chances in a given area 6-10 days in advance, or 8-14 days in advance. You will find these outlooks depict broad information on trends that are expected based on historical data. This will tell you whether to expect warmer, colder or normal temperatures for a given timeframe. Likewise, you will see if normal, wetter or drier conditions are expected.
Photo: 6-10 day outlook that displays precipitation probability from April 3-7, 2020. (Courtesy of NOAA)
Extended Outlooks are generalized forecasts that can depict probability similar to Long-Range Forecasts but for given single months, multiple months or seasons. Arguably, some long-range forecasts can still fit in as an outlook, given that it is a probabilistic forecast rather than a deterministic approach. These can be useful to planning a vacation, determining the best time to plant a garden, or to various elements of farming.
Photo: One month temperature probability outlook, valid for April 2020. (Courtesy of NOAA)
While there are many forecasts that are displayed and accessible to the general public, these examples below depict Short-Range Forecasts and how they can be deceiving:
Currently at 2pm in Mid-February: 39 degrees and sunny
High: 43, Low: 28; Clouds and Snow Showers
This can be deceiving because we understand that we can’t see temperatures that high when it’s snowing. While this is a description, it may appear on your mobile app as a snowflake icon with a high temperature of 43. If you look deeper, you’ll see the low temperature and perhaps an hourly forecast that will tell you when to actually expect the snow showers to occur.
Currently at 8am in October: 58 degrees and cloudy
High: 62, Low: 33; AM Clouds and PM Sun/Windy
We are used to seeing the highest temperatures at the time of peak heating, which typically occurs in the afternoon. This forecast suggests that the low temperature will be 33 degrees, and the high temperature is going to be 62 degrees. In times of strong warm advection and overnight cloud cover, we can actually see temperatures rise overnight and be warmest in the very early morning hours. The drop in temperatures is a result of a cold front passing and ramping up the wind speeds along with bringing in higher pressure and sunshine.
Currently 3pm in June; 62 degrees cloudy and windy
High: 84, Low: 60; Sunny and warm, Chance of a thunderstorm in the afternoon
While the time of this forecast seems to be when the temperature would be the warmest, the particular timing of the thunderstorm was in the afternoon. Warmth starting early in the day lead to rapidly rising air and formed storms quickly in the afternoon hours which lead to rapid cooling following its passing.
Currently at 2am in January; -6 degrees and calm
High: 18, Low: 0; Clear and cold
This is a forecast provided to a large area that covers a handful of small towns and the temperature taken at this location was in a remote place. The location experienced stronger radiative cooling than the model could depict, and showed a 6 degree difference from what was forecasted. Once the local temperature was lower than forecasted, a special weather statement was issued to correct the issue. In this case, a mobile-app may not refresh with the new forecast and show differing values.
While these forecasts depict what can be present on a mobile app at a given time, there are many cases to see a deceiving forecast. Some mobile apps may refresh after a model run is performed and can automate a forecast for a given area. This does not mean that they will refresh right away. It is important to read further beyond the icons that are listed, and take into account hourly forecasts and descriptions attached to the forecast. Professional meteorologists also write discussions on forecasts in the near and far term, which are updated nearly as often as a model runs. The best practice is to stay informed about the big picture, and keep track of local happenings to be aware of what you could experience once you walk out your front door.
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©2020 Meteorologist Jason Maska
You’ve probably sat at home before, watching as it pours outside, and seen a notification somewhere warning you of flash flooding. Flash flooding occurs when an area receives too much rain in a short period of time, and the environment doesn’t have enough time to get rid of all the water. Consequently, rivers, drainage systems, and other areas where water collects tend to overflow rapidly. Often, this water will move onto roadways, making travel extremely dangerous. Sometimes it’s hard to tell how deep this water is, and people will try to drive through it, but end up getting stuck or washed away by fast moving currents. This is why forecasters will tell you to avoid these flooded roadways, and find an alternate route. Thus, the saying “turn around, don’t drown” comes in. If you aren’t sure about how deep water is, it’s better to be safe than sorry, and you should just turn around and find another way.
How dangerous is water? Water weighs 62.4 pounds per cubic foot, and can flow anywhere between 6 and 12 miles per hour. When a vehicle gets stuck in water, the momentum is transferred to the vehicle, meaning the water moves the vehicle with it. As the water rises, 500 pounds of force per foot is applied to the vehicle, and the vehicle displaces 1,500 pounds of water. This makes driving in deep water (2 or more feet) extremely dangerous, as the water can easily carry away most vehicles.
So, turn around, don’t drown. If you’re not sure how deep the water is, just drive somewhere else. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
©2020 Weather Forecaster Sarah Cobern
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