Texans face the threat of severe weather year-round. That’s why it is important for individuals and families to prepare for weather-related emergencies, especially during spring storm season.
The probability of dangerous thunderstorms developing peaks from March to June. These storms can produce life-threatening rainfall, lightning, flash floods, hail, straight-line winds, and tornadoes.
“The most dangerous thing about most thunderstorms is the wind,” said Katie Vossler, meteorologist at KLTV in Tyler, Texas. “The thunderstorm is considered severe when winds reach 58 mph, but considerable damage is possible with winds near 70 mph. A thunderstorm is considered ‘destructive’ once winds are more than 80 mph.”
Thunderstorms can form with little warning. But there are signs that to watch for to alert you to an oncoming storm so that you have time to take shelter.
A “watch” means that hazardous weather is possible. People should have a plan of action in case a storm threatens, and they should listen for later information and possible warnings especially when planning travel or outdoor activities.
A “warning” is issued when a hazardous weather event is occurring, imminent or likely. A warning means weather conditions pose a threat to life or property. People in the path of the storm need to take protective action.
“Many times, a shift in the wind can signal an approaching storm,” Vossler says. “If you hear thunder in the distance, you can measure how far away the thunderstorm is by counting the seconds between the lightning you see and the thunder you hear. Once you count the seconds, divide by 5 and that will tell you a rough estimate of how many miles away the thunderstorm is.”
The Dallas Office of Emergency Management encourages residents to have an emergency plan and kit ready. Residents should be weather aware during severe weather events by monitoring the weather and ensuring their electronic devices are configured to receive alerts. Public safety officials will warn residents of emergencies by sending cell phone notifications and activating the City of Dallas Outdoor Warning Siren System.
Mobile, manufactured, trailer homes and recreational vehicles (RVs) are not safe places to shelter during severe weather. Find a sturdy building or structure, one with walls and a foundation, and plan to shelter in the basement or a small, interior, windowless room on the lowest level for protection.
The safest place for residents according to the Dallas Office of Emergency Management is indoors and away from all windows. If you are outside in a vehicle, pull over to a safe area; stay away from trees during lightning and stay away from mobile homes and highways during tornados. During flooding, roads can be dangerous; don’t underestimate water currents and risk your safety.
PREPARE NOW Take these three steps to make sure you and your loved ones are ready for emergencies:
DOWNLOAD OUR APP Download the free Emergency app for weather alerts, open Red Cross shelter locations and safety steps for different emergencies. Choose whether you want to view the content in English or Spanish with an easy-to-find language selector. Find this and all of the Red Cross apps in smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps.
Visit redcross.org/thunderstorms to learn more tips to keep you and your family safe during spring storm season.
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