Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Severe Weather: Mobile Home Safety

The 2012 severe weather season is young. We haven't even hit May, the month the United States traditionally sees the most tornadoes each year. Already this year, twisters have claimed 63 lives and the more staggering statistic: 47 of those killed were in mobile homes. 

You read that right....75%

April is coming to an end and May-July is when Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan usually see the most severe weather each year.  If you live in a mobile home or have family living in a mobile home, there needs to be a plan in place. This post is not intended to scare, it's meant to push families to prepare.

1) Accept you'll be inconvenienced:  Severe weather doesn't fit nicely into our schedules. We've had storms in the mid-afternoon and dead of night, there are no biases. Residents of mobile homes need to be prepared to move BEFORE the storm arrives. When a watch is issued, consider moving to your place of shelter immediately. That may mean spending half an hour, an hour, or even several hours away from your mobile home. The important thing to remember is that you must stay put until the threat is over.
I'll be the first to admit, many times a threat will pass without a tornado or destructive winds wrecking havoc on your home in particular. But is it worth taking the chance? No.

If you wait for the storm to arrive, it is too late. With manufactured homes, there simply isn't the option of running to a basement or shelter. You need to be ahead of the storms.
2) Have a plan in place: Is there a neighborhood shelter at the community you live in? An available church with a basement? A neighbor or close friend with a basement or sturdy structure? Is this a place you can stay for several hours? If no one is home, do you have a back-up location? These are questions the questions you need to ask yoursel, and make sure your whole family knows where to meet in the case of severe weather.

3) Know when severe weather is possible: Preparation means nothing if you aren't tuned-in to the forecast. It's up to you to watch forecast to know when severe weather may occur. Sign up for text message  forecasts to be sent to your phone each morning or night from WTOL. Bookmark your favorite weather website. Watch the forecasts regularly on TV. However you like to catch the weather, it doesn't matter. What does matter is that you are informed. 
4) Use available tools: If you don't have a weather radio in your home, you need one. Not only do these affordable devices provide day-to-day weather information, but when severe weather is imminent, this little box can become a livesaver. NOAA Weather Radio transmits signals to all programmed radios within range to allow the owner to know where and when a severe risk exists. Lose power? No problem. With a battery back-up, you'll never be left in the dark (so to speak) again.
5) Become Educated: The best way to protect yourself from something is to learn about it. You don't need to take college courses or become a meteorologist, but you and your family should learn the basics.  Here are a few websites where you can learn more on severe weather and a few links to our forecasts/text alerts:




Myth: Tornadoes target mobile home parks

Fact: "While it may appear tornadoes target mobile home parks, they actually do not. An F1 tornado might do significant damage to a mobile home, and cause minor damage to a site built home -- looking like the tornado "skipped" the house. Mobile homes are, in general, much easier for a tornado to damage and destroy than well-built houses and office buildings. A mobile home, or manufactured home, by definition, is built at a factory and taken to the place they will occupy--so they are much more affordable than a house built on-site. Also, they are often built with lighter-weight materials, which do not hold up well in tornadic winds.
Straight-line winds can also destroy a mobile home as easily as a tornado, especially one that is not anchored. Any wind gust that is sustained for 3 seconds over 50mph can cause damage to mobile homes." -NOAA

Sunday, April 15, 2012

April 14th Severe Weather Outbreak

via Storm Chaser Peter Ciro

via Storm Chaser Jesse Risley

As expected a large outbreak of tornadoes and severe weather hit the central United States Saturday into Saturday Evening. A preliminary count shows 100 tornado reports, but many of these were long tracked tornadoes reported twice so the actual count will be lower.

One of those storms tracked into Wichita, KS during our 11pm newscast on WTOL 11. Watching the storm and listening to the reports was incredible. These storms were so strong and in the perfect environment to produce incredible destruction.

Another tornado later in the evening hit the NW Oklahoma community of Woodward. Warning sirens were unable to sound for this storm because they had been reportedly struck by lightning. Leaving those without another source for weather information and warning, completely in the dark. Sadly 5 people have been reported dead as a result of this violent storm.

Woodward, OK via OK Red Cross

You will hear this preached all year long....Please NEVER EVER rely on outdoor sirens as your only source for warning. They are only intended to alert someone outside and not you in your sleep or inside your house.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Top 5 Reasons to Buy a Weather Radio

As we have done for the past 3 years, the WTOL 11 StormTrack Weather Team will be out in full force this spring to sell and program weather radios. There are still plenty of people who don't see the need to for these radios, don't understand them or simply haven't realized how valuable these life saving decives can be. So here is a list of the Top 5 reasons you should buy yourself or family members a weather radio:

1) Always Be Alerted During Severe Weather -- Seems like a no-brainer right? It's not only the most obvious reason but the biggest one to get a weather radio. From a dead sleep or a lazy Sunday afternoon, you don't have to be constantly monitoring the weather to be alerted when severe weather is set to strike.

2) Programmable County by County -- Don't be annoyed with warnings for every county but yours. With the new generation of weather radios, we can program it so you're only alerted when your specific county is affected. Want to add more? Sure we can do that too but that's the beauty of the weather radios. It's up to you!
3) Information When Power Fails -- Ever been in a bad storm after you've lost power? It can be a struggle to find out EXACTLY what's going on with the weather around you. Is the storm severe? Could it produce a tornado? Or is it simply a weak thunderstorm? With battery back-up power on weather radios you can know everything about the storms around you with the simple push of a button.

4) No Longer Relying on Sirens -- If you have ever been caught off guard by a storm before and you're first alert was a siren sounding, you have waited too long. Sirens are a last ditch effort to warn residents who are outside, not inside. NEVER again rely on a siren to warn you about strong storms heading for your front porch.

5) Always Awake -- No matter what time of day or night, your weather radio is on standby to alert you and your family about any significant storm approaching. Many lives have been saved when an alert is issued for a storm in the middle of the night and weather radios have warned owners of an impending storm. Never be caught unaware again.

We still have many weather radios programming sessions left this year at area Kroger stores. Stop out, buy a weather radio and have it programmed for your specific county. Take safety into your hands before severe weather season ramps up in Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan.

Community Track 11 Weather Programming Events:
  • April 10, 5-7:00 pm, Kroger on Woodville Road
  • April 14, 8-10 am, Kroger in Lambertville, MI
  • April 18, 5-7:00 pm, Kroger in Waterville
  • April 24, , 5-7:00 pm, Kroger in Port Clinton
  • April 26 5-7:00 pm, Kroger on Suder Ave
More Information on weather radios can be found here:

Sunday, April 8, 2012

April Waterspouts?

The inbox has been filling up the past few days with people asking if any waterspouts are likely on the lake over the next few days. The simple answer is that a few water spouts are possible, especially much further east toward Cleveland but far less likely near Toledo. Here are my thoughts:

Early this week an upper level low pressure will sit over the eastern Great Lakes. Breeding grounds for waterspouts. Take a look at this picture taken back in August when a similiar set-up occured.

There is a difference this time around though. The August low (in red) was right over Lake Erie, this time around (in blue) the low will be further north. On a map that might not look like much, but that few hundred miles is critical.

The National Weather Service has a great chart as well to take a simple, quick look to guage if the atmosphere is primed for possible waterspouts. I have outlined where the western half of Lake Erie sits on Tuesday. It is right on the edge of a favorable set-up.

So why does this happen? These whirlwinds tend to occur more frequently when cold air is dumped over the warm waters during the transitional seasons (fall and spring). Below I have placed a forecast sounding for Toledo, late Tuesday.. Lake temperatures are about 8 degrees Celcius (49 F) and air temperatures a mile above the surface are expected to be 15-17 degrees C colder than the water. A significant difference that will lead to possible convection Tuesday.

This perfect set-up for lake effect precipitation but with northwest winds, the highest chance for convection will be between Cleveland and Buffalo.
Another side effect of this lake effect precipitation is the possiblity of rain and yes, snow. But again, the highest chances are from Erie County and east. This system is a strong early spring one and bears watching, but you'll likely have to head east of Toledo for any shot at a waterspout and snow!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Could pattern mean a May 4th Severe Weather Outbreak?

Okay, I need to start this post by saying this is not a forecast. Simply a pattern that I have recognized so far this year. Starting on February 1st, severe weather and 1 reported tornado struck the deep south. This was by no-means an outbreak, but severe weather none the less in early Frebruary.

One month and one day later was the largest March Tornado outbreaks in recent memory.

One month and one day later a significant tornado outbreak hit the Dallas metro head on.

If this trend continues, could May 4th be the next big tornado outbreak of the 2012 season?

Of course weather models are not useful this far in advance and the likelyhood that this pattern would continue exactly is low. But early May has played host to some big tornado days, particular in the state of Oklahoma. Only time will tell but if the first two months of the year have been an indication, this will be a long year for severe weather forecasters.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Warmest March On Record

It wasn't even a question of if, but by how much would we shatter the record for the warmest March on record.  With the month now complete the average monthly temperature was +13.3 degrees above normal and for the first time ever averaged above 50 degrees. 

The month also included  six new daily record highs.  Two days in which we saw the warmest temperature ( 85 degrees) ever in the month of March.  And a record breaking nine consecutive days above 70 degrees (March 14-22)! 

Toledo was not alone in this warmth.  An astounding 7,700 record highs were broken across the country with over 80 other cities recording the warmest month of March on record including the following cities in Ohio:






 How about my prediction for the rest of spring?  Look for near normal temperatures for April, but a cooler than normal May.  I'll call this the inevitable balance of nature!