Not all thunderstorms are considered severe, but all are dangerous. Thunderstorms may include strong winds, lightening, hail, heavy rain, flooding and tornadoes. They are most common during spring and summer, but can occur anytime.
Thunderstorm safety tips
- 30/30 Rule. When you see lightening, begin counting slowly. If you hear thunder before you count to 30, take shelter immediately.
- Avoid using electrical appliances and stay off the telephone unless it’s an emergency.
- If you are caught outdoors, find a low spot away from trees, fences and poles. Try to make yourself a small target by squatting on the balls of your feet with your hands on your knees and your head tucked.
- If you are boating or swimming, get out of the water and find shelter immediately.
A tornado is a rotating column of air that whirls at destructively high speeds ranging in width from a few yards to more than a mile. Tornadoes are usually accompanied by a funnel-shaped downward extension of a cloud. More than 800 tornadoes are reported nationwide in an average year. The National Weather Service closely monitors conditions and will issue a Tornado Watch if tornadoes are possible in an area. This means you should listen to the radio or watch television to monitor conditions. The National Weather Service will issue a Tornado Warning if a tornado has been sighted or is shown on radar. When a Tornado Warning is issued, the City will sound the outdoor warning sirens. You should then take shelter immediately.
Tornado safety tips
- Go to the lowest level in a building and stay under a support beam, stairwell or heavy piece of furniture.
- If you don’t have a basement, go to a small interior room such as a bathroom or closet. Stay away from outside walls, glass and windows.
- Mobile homes offer little protection, which makes it important to get to a more substantial shelter, if possible.
The City operates 120 tornado outdoor warning sirens. These sirens are not designed to be heard inside. If you are inside, monitor local media for important warnings and instructions.
More information: Tornado Safety
Floods can occur within minutes or hours of excessive rainfall. Six inches of fast-moving water can knock you off your feet, and 24 inches of water can float your car. Water can pool in low-lying areas and create a hazard even if there is no waterway nearby. The City will place barricades at known flooded roadways. However, you must be aware of the conditions you are driving in and watch for flooded roads and bridges. It is especially hard to gauge the depth of flood water at night.
Flood safety tips
- Never move barricades or attempt to walk or drive through flood waters.
- Plan alternate routes to and from home in case your usual route is flooded.
- Do not park your vehicle near streams, creeks, rivers or areas that are known to hold standing water.
- Stay away from downed power lines and electrical wires; electrocution is a major killer in floods.
- Watch out for animals, especially snakes that have been flooded from their homes and may be lurking in yours.
More information: Water Damage