When severe weather is in the area, your local weather station will issue either a watch or a warning. But what exactly is the difference between a watch and a warning? A watch means the weather conditions in the area have the potential of becoming dangerous to potentially life-threatening, while a warning means severe conditions are more than likely going to happen. Some examples of watches and warnings can include tornado, severe thunderstorm, hurricane, freeze, and flash floods. If your local weather station issues a weather watch for your area, you should prepare to seek shelter if need be. This means being prepared to move to a safer area or evacuate entirely, if necessary. However, if your local weather station issues a warning, specifically tornado or severe thunderstorm, this means you need to seek shelter immediately. It means that a tornado has been spotted, or that the thunderstorm cell has moved into the area. Some warnings don’t always require you to take shelter immediately, for example hurricane warnings simply mean that the impact of the hurricane will be more severe than if issued a watch. In either case, you should still be prepared to take action if issued a warning.
You should always have a plan ready in case of the issuance of any giving weather watches and/or warnings. If you live alone, then it’s easy to set that plan in motion, since you only have to worry about yourself. But if you live with others, you should sit down and have a serious discussion about what your plan is going to be. Figure out where you can go if you need to evacuate, or where you can seek nearby shelter. Weather can change in the blink of an eye, so always be ready.
©2019 Weather Forecaster Sarah Cobern
To learn more about weather safety, visit https://www.globalweatherclimatecenter.com/weather-safety-educational-topics
As winter approaches, it is the perfect time to consider whether you are prepared for extreme cold or a snow emergency. Extreme cold brings the risk of frostbite to exposed skin, whereas heavy snowfall can cause downed trees and powerlines, extended power outages, and dangerous road conditions, among other hazards.
The best thing you can do is to prepare for winter storms before they happen. Some important preparedness staples include testing your carbon monoxide alarm, ensuring that you have extra batteries, and creating emergency supply kits for your car and your home. These supply kits should include blankets, bottled water, flashlights, a radio, batteries, and nonperishable food. Another great addition to your supply kit is a charged external battery for your cell phone. Having power for your phone will help you keep up to date with forecasts and emergency information.
When a winter storm does hit, it is important to stay off of roads. Slippery ice can cause deadly accidents, and if you’re not on the road, you greatly lessen your chance of being involved in one. Time outdoors in general should also be limited, and caution should be taken when shoveling snow, as elderly people can experience heart attacks from the exertion of heavy snow shoveling. Additionally, know the signs of frostbite and hypothermia, and some basics of how to treat these dangerous conditions.
Perhaps the most important part of winter weather safety is knowing the forecast in your area. Go to the National Weather Service website, www.weather.gov, or your local news station, for the most up-to-date coverage of any winter weather threat to your area. More information on winter weather preparedness can be found at this link: https://www.ready.gov/winter-weather#targetText=Have%20extra%20batteries%20for%20radios,%2C%20and%20non%2Dperishable%20snacks.
©2019 Meteorologist Margaret Orr
For more about weather preparedness, visit https://www.globalweatherclimatecenter.com/weather-safety-educational-topics
DISCUSSION: With the tropical Atlantic basin now coming up on the climatological peak of the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season, there are several things which are imperative to continue thinking about as time moves along. First and foremost, the biggest thing tied to tropical cyclone awareness is ALWAYS being adequately prepared for any and all situations. More specifically, this should involve having critical supplies and personal emergency kit(s) at the ready and in a convenient location, so all crucial essentials are ready to go if the situation should call for it.
The predominant reason for why it is so important to have personal emergency supplies ready to go at any time is because if and/or when a powerful tropical cyclone develops and intensifies under specific circumstances, it can often be quite challenging to get all the proper emergency supplies together. Thus, anytime where there happens to be a legitimate tropical cyclone threat developing, be sure to collect and organize any and all emergency supplies such as personal medications, a first aid kit, 4 to 7 days of food and water, important legal documentation, portable electronic charging station(s), etc. as soon as possible. The reason for why this is so important is due to the fact that there can often be a good likelihood that such items will quickly sell out through both in-person as well as online retailers as a consequence of the increased demand with the approaching tropical cyclone (or threat thereof).
In addition, ALWAYS know where you plan to go if you are mandated to evacuate your hometown and how long it will take to get to the given location. If you are aware of a tropical cyclone threat being incredibly legitimate, then it is crucial to take any evacuations orders and/or recommendations incredibly seriously since tropical cyclone forecast tracks can often be hard to anticipate more than 3 days out to within 100 miles of total accuracy.
So, in short, the next time there happens to be a particularly concerning tropical cyclone threat in the vicinity of where you are or where you may be planning to travel to at a given point in time, be sure to ALWAYS heed the best advice provided by local officials and law enforcement since they are only ever trying to prevent the unnecessary loss of life and critical infrastructure.
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©2019 Meteorologist Jordan Rabinowitz
It’s back to school time for students of all ages, and with this comes numerous extracurricular activities. Some of the most popular activities are sports, both competitive and intramural. When it comes to sports, an athlete, fan, or coach also has to pay attention to something else: the weather.
Most schools have divided their sports based on the season of the year: fall, winter, and spring. While they do not quite meet up with the meteorological or astronomical definition of the season, each sport has to deal with its own threat. For example, many high school and college football teams play in the fall, but they practice throughout their summer breaks. As a result, teams have to contend with the heat. Players have to worry about heat exhaustion and heat stroke, along with learning how their coaches want to play.
Some school districts will take practices indoors when the heat index is over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Yet, for some sports, such as football, this only applies to practices and not during season games. Even when the practices are indoors for football, teams may not be able to practice as per standards because of the size of the program and lack of proper equipment within their facilities.
So, fall teams have to deal with the dog days of summer, but they also have to deal with the first taste of winter. As the season comes to a close, some teams will be playing in sleet and cold conditions. Now, players have to worry about hypothermia and finding ways to stay loose and limber. Some teams will be lucky enough to play indoors due to how their sport is played, but some, like football, will not be as lucky.
These weather changes occur quickly as well, so players have to worry about becoming ill Most winter sports are indoors, but for those who play in the spring, they have to contend with the same issues as the fall sports. Spring sports have to deal with the transitions that the fall sees, only in reverse order. Winter still can hold a grasp at the beginning, but towards the end, the first rays of summer can cause the same issues.
So, as athletes practice for their sport, how can they stay safe in various weather conditions? For the heat, the Center for Disease Prevention states that practices should be taking place during the cooler parts of the day, and longer breaks should be taken. They also recommend that heavy clothing should be limited in usage because of the heat.
As for the cold weather, athletes should dress in layers and should watch out for hazards like ice. Extremities should not be excluded when dressing up in layers because these areas are the first to experience frostbite. Athletes should also drink plenty of fluids despite not realizing the importance of remaining hydrated during the colder and warmer months equally.
While the weather poses its threats to sports throughout the school year, coaches, athletes, and spectators alike will enjoy them. Best of luck this sports season, and remember to watch the weather before playing.
To look at more articles about weather safety, be sure to go to https://www.globalweatherclimatecenter.com/weather-safety-educational-topics .
©2019 Weather Forecaster Shannon Sullivan
If you’ve seen a hurricane forecast, you’ve probably seen a graphic like the one below for Tropical Storm Dorian (as of August 27, 2019, 8:00 am):
There’s a lot going on in this graphic, but let’s focus on the cone. This is the white shaded or polka-dotted part of the map that is shaped like, well, a cone. The cone, as described in the graphic, represents the probable path of the storm center. But let’s break it down even further.
The black circles in the center of the cone show the forecasted classification of the storm at the noted day/time. In this case, Tropical Storm Dorian is projected to remain a tropical storm (sustained winds 39-73 miles per hour) as it travels towards Florida.
The white shaded portion of the cone represents the potential track from the time the forecast is issued until three days out. It is shaded because there is more certainty in the forecast to three days out than there is to five days out, which is represented by the white dotted portion of the cone. Although forecasters are less sure of the storm track four to five days out, this can help with hurricane preparation. People living in or near the dotted part of the cone should be sure to take the appropriate cautionary measures. In some cases, like 2017’s Hurricane Irma, this is evacuation. However, Tropical Storm Dorian may not have the same devastating impact as Irma. Precautionary measures should include stocking up on nonperishable food, one gallon of water per person per day, and making sure to have a method of receiving weather information. A portable power bank for a cell phone is a good idea to have, so that you can keep your cell phone charged to make calls, send texts, and receive information from the National Weather Service. NWS also offers a weather radio app that can be downloaded from the iTunes store or Google Play. Of course, monitor your local forecast and listen to any advice given by local officials.
But why is the cone shaped like a cone? The closer in time to the forecast, the more confidence forecasters have in the storm path. The farther out you go, the more uncertain the storm path. The cone gets wider because it encompasses the wider range of tracks that the storm’s center could take.
It is important to remember that the cone does not represent the size of the storm, only potential tracks for the storm’s center. As the graphic says, hazardous conditions can occur outside of the cone! If you live near the edges of the cone, you, too, should prepare for stormy weather.
©2019 Meteorologist Margaret Orr
Image Source: https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/refresh/graphics_at5+shtml/204140.shtml?cone
Lighthouses are beautiful, a nautical symbol of land and safety; a shoreline guardian to sailors for centuries. They bring nostalgia of long days on the beach and hot summers, but these beautiful structures are consistently in the face of earth’s ferocity. It’s not always at the forefront of someone's mind, but most lighthouses stand in the most vulnerable parts of our shorelines. Whether it be out on a thin piece of land, a thin rocky jetty or small patch of beach, they can be the first to face natural disasters that come with the sea. As we move forward in another hurricane season, it’s interesting to reflect on lighthouses and what they do to prepare for hurricanes.
Lighthouse keepers have a tremendous responsibility when preparing for disasters such as hurricanes. Depending on the probability of hurricanes in their location, they often have a well-designed disaster plan. It’s important to know that not all lighthouses have the same disaster plan. This is due to not being located in the same area and may face different elements. This shows that certain lighthouses have a higher risk than others. But they do tend to follow the same generalized protocol when preparing for disaster.
Lighthouse disaster sequence has three stages: Preparation, Response, and Recovery. In preparation for a hurricane, a lighthouse keeper will first perform a risk assessment. This is an assessment of the vulnerability of the lighthouse when facing elements of disaster that coincide with a hurricane. These elements of disaster tend to be strong winds, heavy rain, large waves and rising surf. All of which bring hazards such as flooding, broken windows, damage to building structure and so forth. The vulnerability of the lighthouse is dependent on a few different variables such as location and hurricane strength. Some lighthouses are further inland than others and some tend to be sticking out on a thin piece of rock surrounded by water. The lighthouse on the jetty, may be more susceptible to the elements of a hurricane than a lighthouse that is further inland. A lighthouse keeper may assess a lighthouse’s vulnerability based off the hurricane strength and direction by keeping updated on the weather. Once a lighthouse keeper assesses the situation, they may prioritize based on the highest probable threat. For example, if flooding is a large hazard, they may have duplicate records and inventory elsewhere in case the originals get wet. Depending on the lead time of warnings, they may start to block open spaces that could let in flood water. Other methods of preparation such as having an emergency contact list and extra supplies, will be performed as well as assigning disaster response duties to certain staff members.
In response to a disaster, depending on the lead time of warnings, lighthouse keepers will follow protocol of their disaster plan to minimize injury and loss. With advanced notice, such as with a hurricane, lighthouse keepers will board windows and block openings where water can enter. They may also move records and inventory to keep away from possible water damage. In the case where the threat of disaster becomes an emergency, the cardinal rule for lighthouse keepers is “people first”. The first thing any lighthouse keeper will do if there is imminent danger, is to evacuate visitors and staff, then lead them to safety.
In the recovery stage of the disaster sequence, a lighthouse keeper will first attend to any injury or fatality by either calling emergency services or performing on site medical attention. Next, they will proceed to evaluate damages by touring the building and area for possible safety hazards such as downed power lines, broken glass, etc. Once it is safe, they will start the process of repairs. They may perform this by filing insurance claims, cleaning up, and removing flood water. Recovery of loss and damages will be dependent on site, building and environmental conditions. It could take anywhere from a day to weeks depending on the extremity of the damage.
As strong and sturdy as they seem, lighthouses are the most vulnerable when it comes to hurricanes. Lighthouses can be damaged or swept away by the surf. It is extremely important for a disaster plan to be in place for those who serve in a lighthouse. This way it’s ensured that loss and damages as well as injuries and fatalities may be reduced. All so that our lighthouses may continue to stand tall and guide our ships safely to shore.
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© 2019 Meteorologist Alex Maynard
Most of the country has already suffered (or enjoyed) a hot summer so far. There is technically still two more months of “summer.” So it’s important to understand terms that your local meteorologist could be using.
If you think it’s been hot this summer, you’re probably right. The majority of the states have experienced a heat wave, but do you know what that means?
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) defines a heat wave as a period of abnormally and uncomfortably hot and unusually humid weather. Typically, a heat wave lasts two or more days. The qualifications change for each state – based on their average temperatures in the summer. For Connecticut, the qualifications for a heat wave are three consecutive days above 90 degrees. Compared to Connecticut’s average temperatures, 90 degrees is about 5-10 degrees hotter than what people experience. This makes for uncomfortable temperatures and high humidity levels. But these standards, or qualifications, aren’t the same as they are in Arizona. Since temperatures are on average around 90 degrees for the summer months in Arizona, the qualifications from CT would not stand. This means that the qualifications will be different. In Arizona, a heat wave is issued when temperatures reach triple digits.
It’s also important that when the National Weather Service issues these alerts to take precautions. Stay hydrated, and if you have respiratory issues to make sure you get somewhere where there is air conditioning.
(Credit: NOAA, NWS)
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@2019 Weather Forecaster Allison Finch
The dog days of summer are here and though the days are perfect for being outside the prolonged exposure to the hot weather isn’t healthy for your body. With daytime temperatures ranging from the low to mid-90s in some inland locations, the heat can really make your body work harder to keep itself cool. Heat indices are expected to be close to 100°F across parts of the northeastern United States. The heat index is a measure of how hot it is outside when you factor in the relative humidity with the actual air temperature. For much of the northeast, local National Weather Service offices have issued heat advisories.
When temperatures are this hot and the dewpoints are in the mid to upper-60s or higher, the body has a harder time regulating its body temperature. This is due to the fact that the evaporation process is slowed down. It is important to keep in mind basic safety tips when temperatures get this warm. Wear loose, light fitting, and light colored clothing. Be sure to limit outdoor activity during the hottest part of the day. Try to get outdoor activities done during the morning or evening time when the sun isn’t as high in the sky and the temperatures have dropped. If you do need to be outside, be sure your skin is protected from the sun and stay hydrated. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends taking frequent breaks in air conditioned or shaded areas while working.
If you do not have air conditioning, seek out local community resources like the library or a community center to take a break in. Check your local parks and recreation departments to see if pools and state beaches are open for extended hours. Remember to never leave children or pets alone in a closed vehicle, as it can be lethal to them. Temperatures can rise quickly in a very short amount of time in a vehicle with the windows rolled up. Finally, make sure to check on the elderly or anyone who is sensitive to these dangerous temperatures and recognize the symptoms of heat illness. Keep in mind some of these tips as summer continues on to stay healthy and enjoy it!
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©2019 Meteorologist Shannon Scully
Credit: Steven Vanderburg / NOAA
This past week was Lightning Safety Awareness Week, and it is always important to be aware of your surroundings and know what your plan is when lightning strikes. As the saying goes, “When thunder roars, go indoors!”. According to the National Weather Service, over 25 million cloud-to-ground lightning strikes typically hit the United States each year. Over the last few years there have been approximately 50 lightning-caused fatalities each year. Being one of the top storm-related killers in the United States, lightning is a weather phenomenon that is necessary to be aware of. It is important to be sure to wait 30 minutes after the last rumble of thunder before going back outside.
Lightning occurs after thunderstorms develop, as tall cumulonimbus clouds form an anvil shaped cloud, and rain begins to develop within the cloud. This causes the formation of the thunderstorm, in which ice particles within the cloud exhibit positive or negative charges. Typically, negatively charged particles are located at the base of the bottom of the cloud, and positively charged particles are located at the top of the cloud. Because there are negative charges located at the bottom of the cloud, positive charges develop on the ground, to attract these negative charges. Lightning then occurs when leaders extend from the negatively charged portion of the cloud and connect through a channel with the positive charges of electricity rising up from the ground, causing a lightning strike to reach the ground. This is called cloud-to-ground lightning. Anvil-to-ground lightning can also occur when a leader extends from the positively charged top portion of the cloud and connects with a negative charge rising up from the ground. This can cause lightning that strikes areas from a great distance of 25 miles away, and these strikes can be known as “bolts from the blue”.
Despite what many believe, lightning does not need to be that close to your location to strike. Lightning can strike a location from over 15 miles away, and often will strike before the thunderstorm is near overhead. Whenever you hear the sound of thunder, it is imperative that you go inside immediately. The period of time as the thunderstorm approaches and dissipates is the window that represents high danger with the greatest threat of lightning activity. If you cannot get indoors immediately, the next best option is to get inside a car with a metal frame such that the metal can conduct electricity as the lightning strikes and allow the strike to reach the ground. This is why being inside a sturdy structure or building with electrical cabling is the absolute best option to protect you during lightning activity. Any location that is open on any sides is not safe during lightning strikes and should be avoided. It is also very important to avoid contact with any wires, plugged in electronics, water and plumbing, concrete, and all metal surfaces. Even while safe inside, these objects are great conductors of electricity and could prove fatal if lightning were to strike your location. With summer thunderstorms underway, be sure to be lightning aware and always rush indoors at the first rumble of thunder.
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©2019 Weather Forecaster Christina Talamo
DISCUSSION: When it comes to Spring and Summer-time weather, there is little to no debate that one of the premiere issues which comes into play during all days which are conducive for strong to severe thunderstorm activity is the inherent threat for lightning activity. Most people around the world understand the fact that lightning is a uniquely dangerous component of severe weather threats because from a fundamental standpoint, lightning is an electrical current which upon hitting a water-based or a metallic surface will conduct and transfer the corresponding high-end electrical energy through a given surface. Thus, one of the many reasons for why a lightning strike is so dangerous is the fact that it can quite literally create a life-threatening situation in a split second.
To be exact, although lightning is most often found to strike within a reasonable proximity to ongoing convective storms, there have been many recorded instances in which lightning has struck the surface of the Earth at distances up to 10 or even 15 miles from the outer edge of a given thunderstorm. Hence, this just goes to prove the reality of the fact that even though you may at some point find yourself positioned at a fair distance from a given thunderstorm event, this does not by any means allow for one to be relaxed to any extent.
Regardless of whether you are very close to or very far away from a given thunderstorm event, one such example of why it is so important to respect the natural power of lightning during any given thunderstorm event is what recently happened over at the U.S. Women’s Open event back in the first week of June 2019. You can see in the video above how even as a thunderstorm threat was clarified to the people on the given golf course, there were still a substantial number of people moving about just as a classic cloud-to-ground lightning strike occurred. Thus, this just reveals the fact that even with adequate warning it is always critical to respect the natural power of thunderstorm since they can often behave and unfold quite unexpectedly. Henceforth, reinforcing the importance of always being vigilant and remaining updated on near to short-term weather forecasts so you can be a step ahead as much as possible.
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© 2019 Meteorologist Jordan Rabinowitz