This week is Severe Weather Awareness Week in Ohio, as
proclaimed by Governor John Kasich. Various state agencies, along with the
American Red Cross and the National Weather Service, conduct an awareness and
education campaign each March with the goal of helping Ohioans prepare for,
protect against, and respond and recover from severe weather.
As for preparedness, Kelli Blackwell with the Ohio Emergency
Management Agency has some tips.
“Have a disaster prep
kit in your home and vehicle, she says. "Know the weather conditions and the forecast. Know
the difference between a ‘watch’ and a ‘warning.’ Know what to do when a disaster happens.”
Remember: When it comes to severe thunderstorms, tornadoes
or flash floods, a WATCH means conditions are right for that type of weather
occur. A WARNING means a severe weather event is happening or is imminent.
A Tornado Watch is issued when a tornado might develop within a severe thunderstorm. A
Watch is usually issued for a large area – sometimes parts of 2 to 5 states –
and can last for as long as 8 hours. Heighten your awareness and watch for the
possible approach of severe storms.
A Tornado Warning is issued when a tornado is indicated by
Doppler radar and/or has been sighted by law enforcement or trained spotters.
Such a warning is usually issued for a small area – maybe parts of 1 to 3
counties - and typically lasts less than an hour.
If a Tornado Warning is issued for your location, take
cover! Go to the basement or lowest level of your home or building. Stay away
from windows. If you are in a mobile home, get out and seek sturdy shelter.
a tornado approaches you while driving…unless you are sure you can easily get out of
its path...try to reach a sturdy building. If the worst happens, take shelter in
a ditch, ravine or culvert. Most tornado fatalities are caused by
flying debris, so being below ground level outdoors can save your life.
There have been seven confirmed tornadoes in Washington
County since 1950; the last in May 2000. Franklin County (Columbus) had the
most reported tornadoes; sparsely populated Morgan and Vinton counties have none
About 60 percent of tornadoes in Ohio take place in May,
June and July, and 60 percent have occurred between 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Of special concern to forecasters and first responders –
severe weather that strikes at night. It’s difficult to see, most people are
asleep, and many radio stations are automated at night, which means only one
Emergency Alert System alert may be heard, with no follow-up or additional details.
The solution to potential danger from overnight severe weather
is to purchase a NOAA All Hazards Radio. These special receivers, which cost in
the $25-75 range, receive broadcasts from NOAA Weather Radio stations (one is located in Marietta, broadcasting at a VHF frequency of 162.4
megahertz). The National Weather Service can send an alert tone that will turn
on your Weather Radio to alert you to the approach of severe weather.