It’s that time of the year when local residents need to keep an eye on the sky and an ear tuned for watches and warnings issued by the National Weather Service on our radios, TVs and smartphones. When it comes to severe weather, knowledge is truly power.
The deadly storms that have ripped through Oklahoma, Arkansas and Mississippi this week best illustrate the need for people to know what to do if a tornado warning is issued. The first thing to do is to seek shelter in the lowest level of a permanent structure (a mobile home or car will not suffice).
If a cellar or basement is not available, go to a closet or another interior room. It’s best to put as many walls between you and the outside as possible.
Those who live in mobile homes should plan to take shelter in a family member or friend’s house during a tornado warning. It’s essential to identify a substantial structure in which to take cover during these storms. Riding them out is never a wise option.
While severe thunderstorms can strike at any time of the year, tornadoes appear to be more prevalent in April and May.
And don’t forget lightning is always a potential killer. It may strike an isolated tree or an object in the open. In an average year, lightning will claim more victims than tornadoes or hurricanes.
It’s always a good idea to take proper shelter at the first sound of thunder.