Dangers from Thunderstorms come from many sources, rain/flooding, high winds exceeding 100 mph, hail, lightning, and of course tornadoes. More details for most of these can be seen in the tabs above.
First let's get the watches/warning out of the way:
A Severe Thunderstorm Watch means conditions are favorable for severe thunderstorms in and around the watch area. These are generally large areas and long time frames. This is just to make you aware, keep your eyes and ears open for later updates, maybe double check you're NOAA Radio and the flashlight batteries.
A Severe Thunderstorm Warning means that a severe storm has been reported by a spotter or indicated by radar in the warning area, small areas, usually 1-2 counties and short time frame, maybe 30-60 minutes, but this can vary. Time to act, follow your emergency plans for this type of event.
If a severe thunderstorm is in your area make sure you are indoors, stay away from windows, the best place will be a protected room or basement.
If you are driving find somewhere to pull off the road, preferably exit highways and avoid stopping under bridges. If you come upon water running over the road, stop and turn around, it's not worth it.
If caught outdoors, find a sheltered area or get into your car, somewhere that will protect you from flying debris and possibly hail. Avoid tall trees and other tall objects like flagpoles, avoid going under metal bleachers.
Use common sense, if you wonder if you should seek shelter then do it, a few minutes taken from your day may be worth it.
Dangers from tornados come from one source, Wind; it can be wind strength, direction change and flying debris.
A Tornado Watch means conditions are favorable in and around the watch area for the formation of tornados, usually covering a large area and several hours in time.
A Tornado Warning means a tornado has been sighted by a spotter or indicated on radar, typically a smaller area and a relatively short time frame.
If you have a basement, go to it, stay away from windows and doors, for additional protection you can get under a sturdy piece of furniture or under a stairwell.
Without a basement, get to the lowest level, stay away from windows and doors, try to find a small interior room, place as many walls between you and the outside as possible.
If you live in a mobile home: Get Out! Move to a shelter, if none are available find a low area outside, a ditch or ravine, stay low and protect your head.
A few tornado facts to dispel some myths:
No place is safe from a tornado, they cross rivers and travel up/down mountains.
Leave your windows closed, the myth that a building will explode due to the low pressure in a tornado is false, the destruction comes from the winds and debris blown by the wind.
Lightning dangers start from the moment you can hear thunder, a general rule is to stay indoors for 30 minutes after the last rumble of thunder.
There is no safe place outdoors when lightning is in the area, the majority of lightning victims were seeking shelter, they just waited to long.
If no building is available your car is safer than being in the open, just keep your body from touching any metal parts of the car.
Lightning can occur as far away as 10 miles from the rain from a storm.
Heat lightning does not exist; the lightning is just too far away for the thunder to be heard.
Almost all lightning deaths occur outdoors!
Image courtesy of Jon Kriegh from Foristell, MO Weather
Watches and Warnings are the same for Winter, the watch means conditions are favorable the warnings mean it is or will be happening soon.
Home: Keep ahead of Winter Weather by staying up to date with local forecast
Snow and Ice removal is hard work, take breaks, this is a major cause of deaths during Winter storms.
Make sure you have extra food, remember you will need food that requires no cooking if your power is out.
Check all your battery operatred equipment and if applicable keep spare batteries on hand.
Carbon monoxide comes from many sources, fireplaces, stoves, generators, etc. This is a silent killer, we can not see it or smell it.
Layers, layers, layers, this is the best way to stay warm.
In your car: Check traverl conditions before heading out, look for links in our resources tab.
Make sure your car is ready for Winter, have all systems checked before the cold sets in.
If travel has to happen, pack a kit to help you if you should become stranded.
Let someone know when/where you are going and check in often, let them know wehen you arrive safe.
The number one cause of weather related deaths is from flooding.
A simple phrase coined by the National Weather Service will help keep you safe: "Turn Around Don't Drown"
On average it only takes 2 feet of water for a vehicle to start floating, at that point you have no control.
Remember that many camp grounds are located near smaller rivers and streams, during heavy rain the levels of these waterways can change dramatically in a short period of time.
Although we haven't had any "big" earthquakes in sometime in our area we are still near the New Madrid Fault.
The standard practice during an earthquake is to duck, cover and hold, get under or next to a sturdy piece of furniture.
Stay away from areas indoors that things can fall from, the kitchen, fireplace mantels, and even plant shelves.
If you are outside, get away from anything that may fall on you, be on the lookout for electrical lines and chimneys.
If in a car come to a controlled stop, if traffic continues pull off away from the traffic.
Do not stop under a bridge or anything else overhead, stoplights, streetlights, or signs.
Once the quake is over and you continue, be aware, you may come up on cracks or even missing sections of a road.
These are tips and suggestions that we thought would help some with preparedness for severe weather or emergency situations.
Please see the resource tab for detailed information as provided by the National Weather Service.