Thursday, May 1, 2014

A Volatile Week In Weather

After a relatively quiet start to the 2014 severe weather season, tornadoes wreaked havoc on more than half a dozen states with countless dollars in damage, 200+mph winds and more fatalities still being added to the final tally. 

Seven deadly tornadoes. Picture courtesy SPC.

At least seven fatal tornadoes touched down, among others, resulting in up to a dozen deaths at a time. 

April 27th, 2014 @ 6:25pm CST. Picture courtesy SPC.

The April 27th tornado in Pulaski County, Arkansas, moving through the city of Vilonia, killed 15 people. It was originally assessed as an EF-3 tornado, but was later upgraded to an EF-4 when the scope of the damage and loss of property was fully calculated. 

Over 150 homes destroyed in Vilonia, AK. Picture courtesy Reuters.

The Little Rock, AK suburb of Vilonia after being hit by an EF-4 tornado. Picture courtesy Reuters.

According to the Storm Prediction Center, there were a total of 33 deaths over the course of three days. 

2014 Fatalities by State:
AL:2 AR:15 IA:2 MS:10 NC:1 OK:1 TN:2 
2014 Fatalities by Circumstance:
In Home:1 In Manufactured Home:6 Outside:0 In Building:0 In Vehicle:2 Unknown:24


In 2011 and 2012 combined, there were over 15-hundred weather-related fatalities. Both seasons started with deadly severe weather as early as January and February. 

Because this season started so late, doesn't mean it will be any less volatile. It does, however, mean that with nearly half of the severe weather season over for some parts of the nation, the number and frequency of severe storms has already been significantly reduced. 

April is historically the most active severe weather month. Picture courtesy NBC News.

The current average lead-time for tornado warnings is 13 minutes. While the National Weather Service and NOAA researchers are working to increase warning lead-times, preparation and expectation can keep you safer with a less than 15 minute warning window. 

To be prepared for severe weather, you must be aware of community alerts and weather systems. Know your source of information. Will you be alerted by a family member? A phone app? Your weather radio? What if you're not at home?

These are the questions you need to be asking yourself and addressing with your family before severe weather strikes. Don't be reactive-- be proactive. 

A few final tips:
  • Talk about your severe weather plan with your family
  • Practice it! 
  • Check and change the batteries in your weather radio
  • Keep a safety kit in the basement, including:
    • Shoes
    • Change of clothing for each family member
    • Food
    • Water
    • Things to keep your mind occupied; books, games, cards, etc.