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An Unpredictable Spring

Categories: General, Natural Disasters, Preparedness

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“In the spring I have counted one hundred and thirty-six kinds of weather inside of four and twenty hours.” – Mark Twain

While spring officially sprung in late March, it’s only been in the last few weeks that we’ve seen the characteristically unpredictable weather that ushers in the fun-in-the-sun summer. During spring, temperatures can swing back and forth between balmy (high 80s in Georgia this week) and frigid (in the 40s in Wyoming). Sunny days may be followed by a week of stormy weather; sometimes extreme weather changes can occur even within the same day.

Below are the most common types of severe spring weather:

  • Be Ready for Tornadoes InfographicThunderstorms cause most of the severe spring weather. They can bring lightning, tornadoes and flooding. Whenever warm, moist air collides with cool, dry air, thunderstorms can occur. For much of the world, this happens in spring and summer.
  • Tornadoes, often called twisters, are rapidly rotating columns of air that are connected to both the ground and the cloud.  Tornado Alley – the Great Plains region of the United States – is most active this time of year.  Already in 2014, there have been more than 30 deaths due to tornadoes.
  • Flooding, which is most common in and near mountainous areas due to snow melt, is another condition of spring.  As are mudslides, like the one in Oso, Washington, in late March.  Mudslides happen when heavy rainfall, snowmelt, or high amounts of ground water cause soil to be uprooted.   
  • Wildfires are most common in the Western United States and wildfire season usually starts in May and runs through August.  According to the National Interagency Fire Center, this year’s wildfire season could be dangerous.

Because spring weather can be so unpredictable, you may be unprepared when severe weather hits—especially if you live in a region that does not often experience these types of events. And when severe weather hits unexpectedly, the risk of injury and death increases. So planning ahead makes sense; prepare for storms, floods, and tornadoes as if you know in advance they are coming, because in the spring, they very likely will.

Advance planning for thunderstorms, lightning, tornadoes and floods requires specific safety precautions. Still, you can follow many of the same steps for all extreme weather events. You should have on hand:

  • A battery-operated flashlight, a battery-operated NOAA Weather Radio, and extra batteries for both
  • An emergency evacuation plan, including a map of your home and, for every type of severe weather emergency, routes to safety from each room
  • A list of important personal information, including
    • telephone numbers of neighbors, family and friends
    • insurance and property information
    • telephone numbers of utility companies
    • medical information
  • A first aid kit may include:
    • non-latex gloves
    • assortment of adhesive bandages
    • antibiotic ointment
    • sterile gauze pads in assorted sizes
    • absorbent compress dressings
    • tweezers
    • scissors
    • adhesive cloth tape
    • aspirin packets (81 mg each)
    • First aid instruction booklet
  • A 3–5 day supply of bottled water and nonperishable food
  • Personal hygiene items
  • Blankets or sleeping bags
  • An emergency kit in your car

Remember to help prepare your family members and neighbors for the possibility of severe weather too. Tell them where they can find appropriate shelter as soon as they are aware of an approaching storm. Make sure to run through your emergency plans for every type of severe weather. Show family members where emergency supplies are stored, and make sure they know how to turn off the water, gas, and electricity in your home.

Unfortunately, few of us get much advance notice of a severe weather event. Often times when we become aware of an approaching storm, we have little time to prepare for it.  But, we know what season it is, and even if this spring doesn’t bring any severe weather to your area, being prepared can help you at any time of the year.

Are there any stories of your own spring preparedness that you want to share with us?

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