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Severe Weather Is No Stranger To Wichita Falls – Are You Ready?

Lightning strikes early August 27, 2007 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Here in Wichita Falls one thing is certain. We will get unusual weather. Just yesterday we went from warm and muggy, to severe thunderstorms, to sunshine, to a dust storm in the course of just a few hours.

Knowing how quickly things can change from peaceful to severe, do you have a plan for your family in an emergency situation?

You may remember that we touched on this topic with my Zombie Apocalypse post a few days ago. While that was a fun way to approach the issue of having an emergency plan, the massive devastation in Joplin, Missouri, show us just how important and timely this topic is.

One of the first steps would be to stay aware of the level of threat around you. National Weather Service warnings for severe thunderstorms and tornadoes are automatically forwarded on Lonestar 102.3 when they are issued, we then follow that up with frequent local updates on the air. You can also link to the local AccuWeather forecast from our website.

Keep in mind too that there is a big difference between a Watch and a Warning. When the National Weather Service issues a Watch it will be for an extended period of time and cover a large area. The Watch means that they expect severe weather to develop in this area during this time frame, but little to nothing may be going on just yet. When they issue a Warning it will be for a much shorter time period and a much smaller area. Severe Thunderstorm Warnings mean that a storm that meets or exceeds severe limits is in progress, Tornado Warnings mean that a tornado has been sighted or is indicated by radar and is already in taking place. Your response to each of these situations is different. In the case of a Watch, you just pay attention to how the day develops. In the case of a Warning, you should be prepared to seek shelter, or in the case of a tornado, seek shelter immediately.

Over the last few days I’ve read a few other posts about what to do when a tornado warning is issued. One of them encouraged people to unplug their home appliances. WHAT? There’s a tornado bearing down on my home and you want me to unplug my toaster oven? That sounds counterproductive to me. I will agree that if you’ve got supper cooking and burners set to high it’s a good idea to take a few seconds to turn things off before seeking shelter. Open flames and blowing debris are a bad combination.

That being said, there are a few things that everyone should be prepared to do when the warning sirens wail here in the bottom of Tornado Alley.

Everyone in the family should know where to go for immediate shelter. Some homes are safer than others, my wood frame home would probably disappear in a tornado but my neighbor has an underground storm shelter and I know that I’d be welcome there if the situation ever came about. How about you? Do you have a storm shelter? Does your neighbor? Do you and your neighbor get along?

Everyone in the family should know how to check in with the rest of the family after a severe weather event. If a tornado strikes at 2:00 in the afternoon Mom & Dad may be at work while the kids are at school. Where do you go to meet up if the house is gone? Remember, in a situation like Joplin or the 1979 tornado in Wichita Falls, you may not be able to call Aunt Suzy across town, so have a local information hub and one that is farther away.

Everyone should also have at least a three day supply of water, non perishable food, some blankets and basic first aid supplies. Since you may not have electricity to power up your big screen TV, a decent battery powered or wind up radio would also be a great idea. The power may be off for a few days, so a way of heating cans of soup or boiling water can be a huge asset. If the power stays off and you find all of your steaks thawing in the freezer you might just host a backyard BBQ for your neighborhood. Here at Lonestar 102.3 we’ve got an emergency generator to get our station on the air in almost any type of emergency situation so we can pass along emergency information as needed.

While I really hope we’ll never see another twister the likes of what hit in 1979, or the Joplin tornado, here are links to some sites with severe weather tips that can help you put together a kit and a plan.

Weather emergency plans from the Weather Channel.

Home emergency plans from the Red Cross.

Zombie Apocalypse plans from the Centers for Disease Control.

Remember, you cannot execute the plan until you know the plan. That means that everyone in your home needs to know what to do in an emergency.

As the CDC says, get a kit, make a plan, be prepared.

Not near a radio? Click here to listen to Lonestar 102.3 online.

Dave D.

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