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Are you Prepared for Severe Weather this Summer?

Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicle responding to a Tornado
Prepare your family by taking a few easy actions, like making an emergency kit and a family plan.

As the summer season kicks off, that means an increase in summer storms, thunderstorms and the possibility for flooding. The American Red Cross of Western Maryland wants to help all residents prepare for these weather events.

A thunderstorm is considered severe if it produces hail at least 1 inch in diameter or has wind gusts of at least 58 miles per hour. Every thunderstorm produces lightning, which kills more people each year than tornadoes or hurricanes. Heavy rain from thunderstorms can cause flash flooding, and high winds can damage homes and blow down trees and utility poles, causing widespread power outages.

Know the Difference
1. Severe Thunderstorm Watch - Severe thunderstorms are possible in and near the watch area. Stay informed and be ready to act if a severe thunderstorm warning is issued.

2. Severe Thunderstorm Warning - Severe weather has been reported by spotters or indicated by radar. Warnings indicate imminent danger to life and property. Every year people are killed or seriously injured by severe thunderstorms despite advance warning. While some did not hear the warning, others heard the warning and did not pay attention to it. The information in this section, combined with timely watches and warnings about severe weather, may help save lives.

Visit the Thunderstorm Safety Checklist for information on what to do before, during and after a thunderstorm. 

Floods are among the most frequent and costly natural disasters. Conditions that cause floods include heavy or steady rain for several hours or days that saturate the ground. Flash floods occur suddenly due to rapidly rising water along a stream or low-lying area.

You will likely hear weather forecasters use these terms when floods are predicted in your community:

Know the Difference
1. Flood/Flash Flood Watch - Flooding or flash flooding is possible in your area.

2. Flood/Flash Flood Warning - Flooding or flash flooding is already occurring or will occur soon in your area.

Visit the Flood Safety Checklist for information on how to prepare for a flood and what to do after a flood occurs.

To receive emergency weather updates, download the Red Cross Emergency App for iPhone and Android. You will receive alerts on severe weather in your area and also have preparedness and other important information in the palm of your hand. The free Emergency App is available in app stores for smartphones and tablets by searching for the American Red Cross or by going to