Time to shift gears into summer storm preparation mode

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Utility crews are still repairing power lines taken down by the April 30 snowstorm, but the overnight thunderstorm was a reminder that a different type of weather is of a greater concern this time of year.

A major storm dropped large hail in the Denver area Monday afternoon, grounding flights out of DIA, destroying the roof on a mall and pounding cars throughout the area.

Most of the hail was gone by the time the storm reached Southwest Nebraska, but that doesn’t mean weather predicted for this afternoon and Wednesday will be so kinds.

Just like last week’s blizzard, this week’s severe summer-type weather demands attention.

No matter how many times we repeat it, it seems the “watch” and “warning” designations issued by the National Weather Service remain confusing to many.

Some reminders from the NWS:

_ Severe Thunderstorm Watch _ — issued when conditions are favorable for the development of severe thunderstorms, people located in and around the watch area should keep an eye on the sky and listen to their NOAA weather radio all hazards or tune to local broadcast media for further weather information. The watch is intended to give you time to prepare, time to review safety rules.

_ Severe Thunderstorm Warning_ — issued when a severe thunderstorm has been detected by national weather service doppler radar or a reliable report has been received. A warning is usually issued for portions of one or two counties, for an hour or less. If the warning includes your neighborhood or workplace, you should take immediate action to protect your life and the lives of others. Severe thunderstorms can produce large hail and damaging winds. Tornadoes can and occasionally do accompany severe thunderstorms. Treat this warning the same as you would a tornado warning by taking the proper safety precautions.

The best defense against thunderstorms is to stay inside a sturdy building or shelter that can protect you from deadly lightning, large hail, damaging winds, flooding rain and tornadoes. Fortunately, thunderstorms typically do not last very long and will most often pass by your location in less than one hour.

Once in a shelter, stay away from windows and avoid electrical equipment and plumbing. Remember to bring pets inside. If there is time, secure loose objects outside as these objects often become dangerous flying debris in high winds.

Postpone outdoor activities until the storms have passed.

If caught outside, take shelter in a sturdy enclosed building or hardtop automobile immediately. Avoid open spaces, isolated objects, high ground and metallic objects.

Get out of boats and away from bodies of water. Remember, if you can hear thunder, you are close enough to the storm to be struck by lightning.

If a tornado is spotted, act quickly and move to the lowest level basement of your shelter, putting as many walls between yourself and the outside as possible.

More information from NOAA is available here.

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