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The Ultimate Severe Weather Guide

The Ultimate Severe Weather Guide

Chris Kuball, Jim Peterson and Blaise Keller
Updated: May 26, 2020 01:48 PM
Created: May 13, 2020 08:51 AM

Severe weather can happen at any time, but across southern Minnesota and northern Iowa, our severe weather season typically begins in March and lasts through October. Knowing the correct terminology the ABC 6 Meteorologists use during times of severe weather can help keep you and your family safe and it all starts with a safety plan.
 

Severe Weather Safety Plan
In the event of severe weather, having a safety plan is important. If you don’t have a safety plan, here’s what one should consist of.

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  • Fresh batteries as well as a battery operated radio/TV or internet enabled device to get the latest weather information from the ABC 6 Meteorologists on-air, online or through the ABC 6 News mobile app.
  • An emergency kit, which should include fresh water, non-perishable food and important medication.
  • Identify the safest in your home:
    • Go to a basement or a small room on the lowest level of the building (bathroom, closet or center hallway).
    • Avoid windows and rooms with exterior walls.
    • Get under something sturdy and protect your head and neck.
  • Do not stay in a mobile home.
    • Seek shelter in a designated Storm Shelter or another sturdy structure.

Tornadoes
The region is no stranger to tornadoes, being on the northern edge of Tornado Alley. Most tornadoes are on the weaker side of the Enhanced Fujita Scale (EF0-EF2) however, violent tornadoes (EF3-EF5 and higher) can occur. 

Tornado Watch
Definition: Conditions are favorable for thunderstorms to form tornadoes within the watch area through a set timeframe.
Action: Be prepared for weather conditions to change quickly and review/make a Severe Weather Safety Plan. Check weather conditions frequently.

What You Should Do During a Tornado Watch

  • Identify your safe place in the event of severe weather and Review or make a Severe Weather Safety Plan with your family making sure every member knows the plan.
  • Watch the ABC 6 Weather forecast frequently.
  • Download the ABC 6 News App and allow push notifications to receive severe weather alerts.

Tornado Warning
Definition: A tornado has been spotted and will impact those in the warned area.
Action: If you are in a tornado warning, you need to seek shelter immediately. 

What to Do During a Tornado Warning

At Home:

  • Follow your Severe Weather Safety Plan.
  • Seek shelter in the lowest level in your home; basement is ideal but if you don’t have a basement, a small interior room on the lowest level of your home without windows or exterior walls will do.
  • Crouch down, covering your neck with your hands. Get under a piece of furniture if possible.

Outside: 

  • Seek shelter indoors.
  • If driving, do not attempt to outrun a tornado.
    • Do not attempt to seek shelter in a car.
    • Do not seek shelter under a bridge or overpass
  • If you cannot move indoors, seek shelter in a ditch or low lying area.
  • Crouch down, covering your head and neck with your hands.

Severe Thunderstorms

A severe thunderstorm is a storm that is capable of producing 1” in diameter or greater hail and/or winds at or greater than 58 miles per hour. Tornadoes are also possible during severe thunderstorms.

Severe Thunderstorm Watch
Definition: Conditions are favorable for severe thunderstorms to develop within the watch area through a set timeframe. 
Action: Prepare for quickly changing weather conditions. Check weather conditions frequently.

What You Should Do During a Severe Thunderstorm Watch

  • If time allows, move property such as cars into a garage or under shelter as well as secure any objects that could easily be tossed by the wind.
  • Identify your safe space in the event of severe weather.
  • Review or make a Severe Weather Safety Plan.
  • Watch the ABC 6 Weather forecast closely.
  • Download the ABC 6 News App and allow push notifications to receive severe weather alerts.

Severe Thunderstorm Warning
Definition
: A severe thunderstorm has been spotted or radar indicated and will impact those in the warned area.
Action:  If you are in the warned area, you need to seek shelter immediately.

What to Do During a Severe Thunderstorm Warning
At Home:

  • Follow your Severe Weather Safety Plan.
  • Stay away from windows.
  • If necessary, seek shelter in a basement or lowest level of your building.
  • Crouch down and cover your neck with your hands. 
    • Get under a piece of sturdy furniture if possible.

Outside:

  • Seek shelter indoors.
  • If you can’t move indoors, seek shelter under a sturdy location or vehicle.
    • Do not seek shelter under a tree.
  • Stay in a car if you can’t find a sturdy location or building.
    • The car will provide some protection.
    • Cover yourself to protect yourself in case glass breaks.


Floods
Floods account for the most thunderstorm related deaths per year, even more than tornadoes and lightning. There is a noticeable difference between a flood and a flash flood – mainly the speed at which impacts will happen and duration of impact.
 

Flood Watch
Definition
: Conditions are favorable for river flooding or inundation in flood plains within the watch area. 
Action: Be prepared for potential rising river levels. Those near rivers or in a flood plain should consider using sandbags if necessary. Make sure sump pumps are working properly and check weather conditions regularly.  

What You Should Do During a Flood Watch

  • Prepare sandbags for your home if you live near a river or in a flood plain.
  • Be prepared to evacuate. Pack bag full of necessary supplies, like medication, non-perishable food and fresh water.
  • Watch the ABC 6 Weather forecast closely.
  • Download the ABC 6 News App and allow push notifications to receive severe weather alerts.

Flood Warning
Definition: Flooding is either occurring along rivers or in flood plains or will be imminent in defined areas. Flood conditions may last as long as several days.
Action: Move to higher ground if flood water is forecast to impact your home and obey any evacuation orders.

What You Should Do During a Flood Warning

  • Move to higher ground.
  • Obey any evacuation orders.
  • Stay away from flooded areas.
    • Do not cross a flooded road/area.
      • 6” of fast moving water can knock a person down.
      • 12” of fast moving water can cause a small car/SUV to float.
      • 18”+ of fast moving water can cause a large car/SUV to float.
  • Stay away from any electrical equipment that are in contact with or close contact with water.

Flash Flood Watch
Definition
: Conditions are favorable for a sudden, rapid rise of water due to heavy rains to occur within the watch area through a set timeframe.
Action: Be prepared for rapidly rising water in low areas and rivers due to potential heavy rains. Check weather conditions frequently.

What You Should Do During a Flash Flood Watch

  • Make sure sump pumps are working.
  • Pack a bag full of necessary supplies like fresh water, non-perishable food as well as necessary medication.
  • Watch the ABC 6 Weather forecast closely.
  • Download the ABC 6 News App and allow push notifications to receive severe weather alerts.

Flash Flood Warning
Definition
: Sudden, rapid rises of flood waters are either happening or are imminent in the warned area. 
Action: Seek shelter and higher ground immediately.
 

What You Should Do During a Flash Flood Warning

  • Seek shelter at higher ground.
  • Obey any evacuation orders.
  • Stay away from flooded areas.
  • Do not cross a flooded road/area.
    • 6” of fast moving water can knock a person down.
    • 12” of fast moving water can cause a small car/SUV to float.
    • 18”+ of fast moving water can cause a large car/SUV to float.


Heat
Excessive heat is another dangerous form of severe weather. Heat stroke and heat exhaustion are preventable if you know what symptoms to look for

Heat Stroke
Symptoms

  • Headache
  • High external temperature (103°F or higher)
  • Rapid and strong pulse
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • No sweating
  • Hot and dry skin
  • Loss of consciousness

Action: Immediately stop what you or the person experiencing these symptoms are doing and call 9-1-1. Move instead to a cool location and begin to lower the body temperatures with either cool clothes or a bath. Do not give or take any fluids.

Heat Exhaustion
Symptoms

  • Feeling faint or dizzy
  • Excessive sweating
  • Cold, pale and/or clammy skin
  • A fast but weak pulse
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Muscle cramps

Action: Immediately stop what you or the person are doing and move inside or to a cooler place. Once inside or in a cooler place, lie down and sip water as well as loosen any tight clothing. If vomiting continues, seek medical attention.

Ways to Prevent/Lessen Heat-Related Illnesses:

  • Drink water
    • Avoid sugary drinks, alcoholic drinks and drinks with caffeine - they are diuretics which will cause you to become dehydrated.
  • Wear light color, loose-fitting and lightweight clothing.
  • Never leave elderly, children or pets in cars during particularly hot days.
  • Pace yourself if you’re outdoors either working or for recreation.
    • Take frequent breaks to cool down.
  • Use an AC or fan to regulate your temperature during the day and at night.


Staying Weather Aware
You can get the latest forecast on ABC 6 News, KAALtv.com or by downloading the ABC 6 News app for iPhone or Android. You can also Like ABC 6 News on Facebook as well as follow ABC 6 Weather and News on Twitter
 


Copyright 2020 - KAAL-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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