Severe storms come in several types. Thunderstorms, hail, blizzards, ice storms, high winds, and heavy rains can develop quickly and threaten both life and property. Severe storms can occur in any region, regardless of the season.
Tune in to your local radio or television station in order to stay up to date on the most current weather reports and advisories. Keep a battery or crank-powered radio handy as power failures occur often during severe storms.
Generally, a blizzard is a winter storm where winds can reach a speed of over 24 mph and visibility can be reduced to less than one mile because of the snowfall or blowing snow. These conditions must last at least three hours.
A blizzard occurs when Arctic winds bring snow, arctic cold, violent winds, and severe blowing snow that impairs visibility. For the storm to be considered a blizzard, these conditions must last at least three hours but may last up to several days.
Poor visibility, low temperatures, and violent winds are the most life-threatening dangers of a blizzard.
In the US, blizzards accompanied by violent winds occur more frequently in meadows.
The East coast, the areas near the Great Lakes, the Southern and Western parts of New York and the states bordered by the Atlantic are particularly vulnerable to heavy snowfall. Black ice (ice that is transparent and difficult to see) can occur anywhere in the country but occurs most frequently in New York, the Midwest, and the states bordered by the Atlantic Ocean.
Hailstorms can happen anywhere in the US but most frequently happen in Montana as well as in the Southern Plains and Illinois.
Hailstorms most frequently occur between May and October. In certain plains areas, there can be up to ten hailstorms per year.
A hailstorm can be a financial disaster for farmers whose crops have been destroyed, or for those who sustain severe damage to their homes or cars.
Some hailstones are as small as peas while others may be as large as watermelons.
Torrential Rains (Heavy Rains)
Torrential rains can cause flooding. This is especially the case when the ground is still frozen or saturated from previous storms. Torrential rains are also likely to cause flooding when they coincide with spring thaw.
Freezing rain is hard, sticks to most surfaces, and is more slippery than snow. In small quantities, freezing rain can be dangerous but on a larger scale it can be catastrophic.
Lightning occurs when air becomes electrically charged during a storm. Lightning can travel as fast as 25,000 miles per second.
Thunderstorms are often accompanied by violent winds, hail, lightning, torrential rains, and possibly tornadoes. A thunderstorm usually doesnâ€™t last for more than an hour but a series of storms can continue for several hours. Prepare Yourself
Stock up on long term food as well as a flashlight, a crank or battery-powered radio, and extra batteries. For a complete list of emergency supplies.
You’ll also learn what to keep in an emergency kit for your car. When a violent storm is brewing, the U.S. Weather Advisory Service warnings and advisories through the radio, television, online, and automated phone services. (www.noaa.gov)
Storm Preparation Tips
When extreme weather has been announced, anchor anything that can be thrown around by the wind, whether it is inside or outside your home. When they are picked up by violent winds, objects like garbage cans and garden furniture can cause injuries to both people and property.
If you live on a farm and raise animals, bring them into the stable and make sure they have sufficient food and water. Cut down dead tree branches and dead trees in order to minimize the risk of them falling on your house during a storm.
If you’re indoors, stay away from windows, doors, and fireplaces. You and your family should seek refuge in the predetermined location from your emergency plan. If local authorities ask that you evacuate, do so. Bring your emergency kit with you.
Using an ordinary phone line during a storm carries some risk. Use your cellular phone instead. Never seek refuge on a boat during a storm. If you were already on the water when the storm emerged, immediately head to the nearest shore.
Always double-check maritime weather before going out on a boat for the day and listen to weather reports and advisories while out on the water. If you are in your car, look for a safe location away from trees and electrical poles.
Stay there until the storm begins to clear. Generally, on a farm, the effects of a violent storm on livestock can be alleviated by displacing the animals to a place where they’ll not have to endure the storm. If moving the animals is not possible, be sure to shelter the animals. The approach you choose will depends on the type of storm you’re expecting.