Weathering the storm: Tips from the National Weather Service on how to prepare for severe springtime weather

Monday, April 3, 2017
Raindrops fall on a window at Southeast Missouri State University's River Campus as lightning strikes behind the Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge during a passing thunderstorm in Cape Girardeau.
Laura Simon

Being prepared for severe weather can help make the spring and summer a better time for everyone. According to the National Weather Service, it's important to create a storm survival plan, which should take into account several factors.

Before a storm, make a plan.

The safest spot in a home is generally the basement or storm cellar, but for homes that do not have these, a bathtub centrally located in the house can be used, provided a mattress is pulled in on top, according to the National Weather Service's website.

Several communities also have storm shelters available during storm watches. This information is often available on the city's website.

Mobile homes and cars are not safe during a storm, the National Weather Service says.

Kevin Schemel pauses upstairs March 10 in his home, which was damaged by the March 1 tornado near Perryville, Missouri.
Fred Lynch

"Find other shelter if at all possible," it says, including a friend or relative's house.

Tornadoes can strike at any time of day, during any time of the year, the NWS says. A tornado watch means a tornado is possible, and people should be on heightened alert. A tornado warning, however, means conditions are favorable for a tornado, and people should seek shelter immediately.

Tornadoes aren't the only potential hazard of a severe thunderstorm. Straight-line winds can reach speeds of up to 125 miles per hour, the same strength as an EF-3 tornado, according to the NWS.

Families should discuss plans ahead of time. Calling each other on cellphones may not be possible in an emergency situation, so a designated meeting area may be a good idea as well.

Keeping electronics charged and unplugged during a storm is important as well.

Weather alerts can make a big difference in preparedness. Several apps are available for download, or a weather radio could be a good investment.

Lightning is attracted to power lines and water systems, according to the National Weather Service.

"Don't take a shower or bath during a storm," it warns. Lightning could strike, and the damage could be severe.

More ideas for a family plan are available at ready.gov/make-a-plan.

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