Calendar belies depth-of-winter subzero weather

Monday, March 4, 2019

It’s hard to believe when we’re experiencing the coldest temperatures of the winter, but this is the last week of “standard” time.

At 2 a.m. Sunday, we’ll all be forced to set our clocks ahead an hour, losing an hour of sleep and supposedly taking advantage of the longer days the earth’s tilt toward the sun provides this half of the year.

Frostbite is more of a hazard in these parts, but at least 23 Alabama residents were tragically caught off guard and killed by a tornado that ripped through their crossroads community of Beauregard, destroying mobile homes and conventional structures along a path a half-mile wide.

As tornadoes go, it was a medium-sized one, at least an F3 with wind speeds up to 200 mph or more.

Other tornadoes or straight-line winds were reported around the south, but no other fatalities as of Sunday night.

If the severe weather trend continues, Nebraska could be in for a rough summer. Despite our state averaging 35 tornadoes a year, it’s always good to remind ourselves of some basics.

— Tornado Warnings are issued when a funnel cloud is sighted or indicated by radar. Take action immediately.

— Tornado Watches are issued when conditions are favorable for them to develop. Be prepared to take action.

— Stay tuned to media when watches are sounded and make plans to find shelter if necessary.

— A basement is the safest place, or a small room in the middle of the house, such as a closet or bathroom. Wear shoes and keep a portable radio and flashlight handy.

— If you live in a mobile home, even with tie-downs, seek a more permanent shelter. Make arrangements to go to a friend’s house or nearby basement. If caught outdoors, as a last resort, lie flat on the ground with your hands over your head and neck.

— In an automobile, never try to outrun a tornado. Get out of the vehicle and seek a strong structure or low area to lie down in.

— At work or school, know the emergency shelter plans, or go to an interior hallway or small room in the building’s lowest level. Avoid areas with glass and wide free-span areas.

— If building or remodeling, check out FEMA’s Taking Shelter from the Storm guidelines for safe room construction and consult a qualified general contractor.

For general tornado safety ideas, visit Be Ready Nebraska.

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