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Be ready for severe weather


Severe Weather Preparedness Week March 15 through 21


March 11, 2009
Gov. Mitch Daniels has designated March 15 through 21 Severe Weather Preparedness Week.

Even though severe weather can happen anytime during the year, spring is when severe thunderstorms, flooding and tornadoes are more prevalent.

The best protection against potential weather disasters and emergency situations is to be prepared. The following is a list of things that can help a family be prepared:

•Compile a disaster supply kit that includes a battery-operated radio, flashlight with extra batteries, a three-day supply of water and non-perishable food and a first-aid kit.

•Discuss with family members where your "safe room" is — where you will meet if separated — and where your disaster supply kit is located.

•Locate gas and water shut-off valves.

•Take pictures or videos of your home's contents for insurance purposes and store at a friend's or relative's house or in a safe-deposit box.

•Listen to emergency announcements and follow directions.

A tornado watch means conditions are conductive to the development of tornadoes in and close to the watch area.

A tornado warning means a tornado has actually been sighted by spotters or indicated on radar and is occurring or imminent in the warning area.

•Tornado facts:

A tornado may be in close proximity to sunshine or it may be totally enshrouded in heavy rain.

Sometimes the air before a twister hits is eerily calm, but in some cases, strong, gusty winds are followed by a tornado.

Large hail and tornados can be produced by the same thunderstorm. How-ever, many hailstorms are not accompanied by a tornado and vise versa.

While many tornados move from a southwest direction, they can also travel from other directions, such as west or northwest.

Tornados can take a variety of not only sizes, but also shapes; from the traditional funnel to snake-like multiple vortices, and from a drawn-out rope shape to a wide, churning, "smoky" appearance.

•Tornado myths:

Tornadoes are always visible from a great distance — False. They can be hidden in heavy rainfall.

Tornados cause houses to explode from changes in air pressure — False. Homes are damaged by high winds, not air pressure changes.

By opening windows, you can balance the pressure inside and outside your home so a tornado will not do damage — False. The force of a tornado can rip through a structure, whether the windows are open or not. You should not open windows when a tornado threatens. That could actually make the situation worse.

The best place to be during a tornado is generally in the southwest corner of the basement — False. This used to be a safety rule but has now been rethought. The new rule is to move to a protected interior room on the lowest floor of the building, as far as possible from exterior walls and windows.

Tornadoes cannot cross water — False. Tornadoes that form on land can cross bodies of water such as rivers and lakes. Tornadoes, especially the more violent ones, can also travel up and down hillsides. Thinking that your location is protected by a river or ridge could be dangerously wrong.

A tornado is always accompanied or preceded by a funnel cloud — False. Especially in the early stages, a tornado can cause damage on the ground even though a visible funnel cloud is not present. Likewise, if you see a funnel cloud but it does not appear to be "touching down," a tornadic circulation could still be in contact with the ground.

Downward bulging clouds mean tornadoes are on the way — Not Necessarily. It could be the case, especially with those that show evidence of a rotating motion. But many of these clouds are not associated with tornadoes and may be harmless.

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