WATCHES & WARNINGS
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We want you to be prepared when bad or severe storms strike, but it's up to you to devise a plan to keep your family safe. Using the information below, develop a plan today for your home, work, school and for the outdoors. Be ready to act when good weather goes bad; it could be the most important decision you'll ever make!
During severe thunderstorms, the air near a lightning strike is heated to 50,000 degrees - hotter than the surface of the sun. Around the Northeast, thunderstorms occur year-round with a peak in the spring and summer months. Depending on their strength, some thunderstorms produce large hail and strong wind gusts that can lead to property damage, injuries and sometimes death.
So what should you do when thunderstorms approach? Remain indoors away from windows, electrical appliances and avoid using home phones.
Automobiles can be the safest location during a lightning storm. If you're caught outside with nowhere to run, find a low spot and crouch down on the balls of your feet with your feet together. Limit contact with the ground and avoid being the tallest object.
A few minutes or hours of excessive rainfall can cause flash flooding. Surprisingly enough, more weather deaths can be blamed on flash flooding than any other type of severe weather. Nearly half of all flash flooding fatalities are auto related. The key to survival during flooding is to avoid running water, such as you would find in swollen streams and low water crossings. Drive cautiously, never go through road blocks or travel over flooded roads. Shallow water, one foot deep can carry your car off the road. Be extra cautious at night when darkness makes it especially hard to see water over the road.
If you live in a flood prone area, make a family evacuation plan and be prepared to move to higher ground with little notice.
Tornadoes are nature's most violent storms. They occur occasionally in the northeast. Fortunately, Doppler radar allows meteorologist to warn the public of approaching tornadoes. Most tornadoes are quite weak, causing little damage, but the strongest tornadoes can annihilate everything in their paths. Conditions that could signal an approaching tornado include a dark, greenish sky, large hail, a "wall" cloud, or a loud roar (described like a freight train). Some tornadoes can be hidden behind a wall of heavy rain. These "rain wrapped" tornadoes can be hard to see. If you think you are in the path of a tornado get to a secure home or sturdy building. Avoid mobile homes. Head for the basement - if you have one - or go to the center of the room on the lowest floor, away from windows. A bathroom or central closet provides better protection. Use blankets or a mattress to protect yourself and others from flying debris. If caught outside or in a vehicle, do not try to outrun the tornado in your car. As a last resort, lie flat in a nearby ditch or depression.
Winter storms can have a devastating effect on the northeast. These storms can literally shut down an area for days. Strong winds and/or heavy accumulations of ice and snow can bring down trees, utility poles and power lines. Small amounts of ice can cause extreme hazards to motorists and pedestrians. Prolonged exposure to extreme cold may cause frostbite or hypothermia which could be life threatening, especially to infants and elderly people. Snow, sleet and freezing rain make up the winter precipitation types during a storm.
If you lose power during a storm, use space heaters, a fireplace or a wood stove to keep warm. Remember, to use extreme caution while operating these appliances. To conserve heat, close off unneeded rooms and cover windows at night. Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. Wear layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing.
If you're outside or stuck in a vehicle, run the motor about ten minutes every hour for heat, but make sure you have plenty of ventilation. Also, make yourself visible to rescuers by tying a bright cloth to your car's antenna and exercise from time-to-time to keep blood circulating.