When a summer storm threatens our area, the local weather forecasts will contain a variety of terms for watches/warnings/advisories and precipitation types. The following is a list of commonly used terms for summer forecasts.

Flash Flood Warning: a flash flood is imminent; take immediate action. Go to high ground as soon as possible.

Flash Flood Watch: a flash flood is possible in the area; stay alert, stay tuned to your radio or TV.

Hurricane Warning: issued when hurricane conditions are expected in a specified area in 24 hours or less. Hurricane conditions include winds of 74 miles an hour (64 knots) or greater, and/or dangerously high tides and waves. Actions for protection of life and property should begin immediately when the warning is issued.

Hurricane Watch: issued for an area when there is a threat of hurricane conditions within 24-36 hours.

Storm Warnings: when winds of 55-73 miles an hour (48-63 knots) are expected.

Tornadoes: can be spawned by severe thunderstorms and hurricanes, often producing severe damage and casualties. If a tornado is reported in your area, a warning will be issued.

Tornado Warning: Tornadoes have been seen in the vicinity, or detected by Doppler radar by the National Weather Service.

Tornado Watch: The National Weather Service has determined that weather conditions in your area are favorable for the formation of tornadoes.

When a Hurricane Watch is issued for your area:

  • Check often for official bulletins on radio, TV, or NOAA Weather Radio
  • Ensure your car has a full fuel tank
  • Check mobile home tie-downs
  • Secure small craft (double lines) or move them to safe mooring
  • Stock canned provisions
  • Check supplies of special medicines and drugs
  • Check batteries for radio and flashlights. Have plenty of spare batteries
  • Secure lawn furniture and loose outdoor items
  • Tape, board, or shutter windows to prevent shattering
  • Wedge sliding glass doors to prevent them from lifting out of their tracks

When a Hurricane Warning is issued for your area:

  • Stay tuned to radio, TV, or NOAA Weather Radio for official bulletins
  • Stay in your home if it is sturdy and on high ground
  • Board up garage and porch doors
  • Move valuables to upper floors
  • Bring in pets
  • Fill containers with several days’ supply of drinking water
  • Turn the refrigerator to its maximum cold and don’t open unless necessary
  • Use the telephone only for emergencies
  • Stay indoors on the downwind side of the house away from windows
  • Beware of the eye of the hurricane when winds die down and the sun shines for about 15-30 minutes.  The winds will rapidly resume when the opposite side of the hurricane approaches.  Do not get caught unprotected.
  • Evacuate mobile homes. Very strong hurricanes can destroy these types of homes.
  • Evacuate areas which might become submerged by storm surge or stream flooding
  • Move inland and/or to high ground as soon as possible
  • Plan ahead. Leave early – in daylight if possible.
  • Shut off water, gas, and electricity to your home at the main shutoffs
  • Take small valuables, credit cards, and important papers but travel light
  • Leave food and water for pets (shelters will not take them in with you)
  • Lock house securely
  • Drive carefully to the nearest designated shelter using recommended evacuation routes

When a tornado warning is issued for your area:

  • Seek shelter in a windowless interior room in the lowest level of the house. Go to the basement, if possible. Stay away from windows.
  • If caught outside during a tornado, stay low and seek a drainage ditch or another low point on the ground. Culverts under streets and highways may offer effective shelter.
  • If you are in your vehicle during a tornado, get out of the vehicle and seek shelter in drainage ditches or culverts. Do not try to outrun a tornado.
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