Severe Weather Awareness

It is Severe Weather Awareness Week…April 28th to May 4th.

Although our severe weather season here in Connecticut tends to be in the summer, for the Southern United States, the peak of the season is right now with a daily threat for massive storms and tornadoes through all of May and even into early June.

The following are excerpts from The National Weather Service. For more information, go to

Over the last 10 years, on average severe weather has killed over 278
people per year across the United States.  In just the past year, severe
weather across the nation was responsible for 7 events that caused more
than a billion dollars in damage each.

Severe thunderstorms produce winds of at least 58 mph, and/or hail of at
least one inch in diameter, and/or a tornado.  A Severe Thunderstorm
Watch means that severe thunderstorms are possible within the next few
hours, typically less than six hours. A Severe Thunderstorm Warning
means that severe thunderstorms are imminent or occurring.  A warning
implies a significant threat to life and property.  You should seek
shelter immediately.

Tornadoes are violently rotating columns of air in contact with the
ground and attached to the cloud base above.  Like a Severe Thunderstorm
Watch, a Tornado Watch means that tornadoes are possible over the next
few hours, again usually less than six hours.  A Tornado Warning means
that a tornado is imminent or occurring.  A Tornado Warning implies an
immediate threat to life and property.  Take shelter immediately.

Flash flooding is a rapid rise, within six hours, of water along a stream
or low-lying urban area.  The most common cause of flash flooding is
downpours associated with thunderstorms.  A Flash Flood Watch means that
conditions are favorable for flash flooding. A Flash Flood Warning means that flooding is
imminent or occurring.

Since 1996, flash floods have accounted for 12 deaths and more than 53 million dollars in property damage across the Tri-State area.

Since 1996, high winds produced from severe thunderstorms were directly
responsible for 15 deaths and 172 injuries across the Tri-State region.
Although hail can damage property and injure people and animals, it
rarely kills.

Climatologically, severe thunderstorms occur most frequently during the
late afternoon, around 5 pm, from May through early September.  A typical
example would be rapidly developing severe thunderstorms forming in a
moist unstable air mass ahead of a quick moving strong cold front. 
Typical damage would result from strong wind gusts along the leading edge
of a line of thunderstorms.  Winds that blow from one direction are
called straight-line winds.

Before a storm, develop a plan for you and your family at home, school,
work and when outdoors.  Identify a safe place to take shelter.  Conduct
frequent drills.  Know what action you will take when a warning is
issued.  Be familiar with areas around where you live and work.  The
National Weather Service issues warnings based on the specific storm�s
movement.  Know where to tune to receive the latest weather information.

During severe weather, postpone outdoor activities if thunderstorms are
imminent.  Move to a sturdy building or car.  Stay away from tall objects
such as towers, isolated trees and telephone poles.  If caught outdoors,
find a low spot.  Make sure your choice is not susceptible to flooding.
If in the woods, take shelter under smaller trees.  If you are boating or
swimming, seek shelter on land immediately.

If a Tornado Warning is issued, move to a pre-designated place of safety,
preferably a basement or interior room.  Stay away from windows.  Get as
low to the ground as possible.  Cover your head.  If caught outdoors and
a tornado threatens, lay flat in a ditch or depression and cover your
head with your hands.  Be aware of flying debris.  Flying debris causes
most fatalities and injuries during a tornado.  Mobile homes offer little
protection from a tornado.  Evacuate your mobile home and move to your
designated place of safety.

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