Severe Weather

Watch vs. Warning

  • Watch means conditions are favorable for severe thunderstorm or tornado development. Be aware and monitor weather information.
  • Warning means a severe thunderstorm or tornado is occurring or is imminent based on radar information. Take protective actions, such as sheltering in place.

In some situations, it may be safer to remain inside at your current location rather than to evacuate (i.e., severe/tornadic weather or the release of chemical, biological, or radiological contaminates). In these situations, leaving may put you in greater danger. If you receive instructions to shelter in place:

  • Immediately stop classes or work, wherever you are. If you are outdoors, go indoors. If there are others in the vicinity, provide for their safety by asking them to stay indoors. Do not leave.
  • Select interior room(s) with the fewest windows or vents. The room(s) should have adequate space for everyone to be able to sit. Avoid overcrowding by selecting several rooms if necessary.
  • Monitor the BulldogAlert messages, radio or television until you are told all is safe or you are told to evacuate.
  • You should always be alert to changing conditions and be prepared to take additional actions to ensure your safety.

Severe Thunderstorms and Tornados

A severe thunderstorm is one which may produce large hail (dime sized or larger) or damaging winds (gusts of 58 mph or more). Although lightning can be deadly, it is not a criterion for what the National Weather Service defines as severe since any ordinary thunderstorm can produce a lot of lightning. Likewise, excessive rainfall may lead to flash flooding, but heavy rain is not a criterion for the term severe.

A tornado watch means conditions are favorable for severe thunderstorms that may be capable of producing a tornado, while a tornado warning means a tornado is occurring or imminent.

Preparing for a Thunderstorm

  • Get an emergency supply kit.
  • Remove dead or rotting trees and branches that could fall and cause injury or damage during a severe thunderstorm.
  • Use the 30/30 lightning safety rule. If you see lightning and you cannot count to 30 before hearing thunder, go indoors. Then stay indoors for 30 minutes after hearing the last clap of thunder.

Have a Thunderstorm Plan

  • If a thunderstorm is likely in your area, postpone outdoor activities.
  • Secure outdoor objects that could blow away or cause damage.
  • Avoid showering or bathing during a thunderstorm. Plumbing and bathroom fixtures can conduct electricity.
  • Watch for darkening skies, lightning, increasing winds.
  • Go quickly inside a home, building or hard top automobile, if possible.
  • If shelter is not available go to the lowest area nearby and make yourself the smallest target possible but do not lie flat on the ground.

Flood Precautions

Flooding is the nation's most common natural disaster. Flooding can happen anywhere. However, all floods are not alike. Some can develop slowly during an extended period of rain, or in a warming trend following a heavy snow. Others, such as flash floods, can occur quickly, even without any visible signs of rain. Be prepared for flooding no matter where you live, but particularly if you are in a low-lying area, near water or downstream from a dam. Even a very small stream or dry creek bed can overflow and create flooding.

Prepare for Flooding

  • Get a kit of emergency supplies and prepare a portable kit in case you have to evacuate.
  • Unplug electrical appliances, moving them to higher levels, if possible. However, do not touch an electric appliance if you are wet or standing in water.
  • If you have a car, fill the gas tank in case you have to evacuate.

Stay Informed

  • Local authorities may not immediately be able to provide information on what is happening and what you should do. However, you should listen to NOAA Weather Radio, watch TV, listen to the radio or check the Internet often for official news and instructions as they become available.
  • If it has been raining hard for several hours or if it has been raining steadily for days there may be the potential for flooding. Use common sense and available information. If water is rising quickly or you see a moving wall of mud or debris, immediately move to higher ground.
  • Stay out of flood waters, if possible. The water may be contaminated or electrically charged. However, should you find yourself trapped in your vehicle in rising water get out immediately and seek higher ground.
  • Stay away from downed power lines to avoid the risk of electric shock or electrocution.