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Monday, March 17, 2014

Be Alert. Be Prepared. #BeAForce

Be a part of the #BeAForce campaign to prepare yourself for the severe weather season.

After this winter it’s hard to believe that spring would ever show up again. And along with the return of birds, blue skies, and muddy streets, each spring brings the season of possible severe weather.
Tornadoes can be nature’s most violent storms with the capability of doing serious damage, both personally and to property.  Our alert systems have significantly improved over the years, but there remains no fail-proof way to predict and warn of a tornado’s path. Tornadoes generally occur near the trailing edge of a thunderstorm and it’s not uncommon to see clear, sunlit skies behind. Make sure to watch for these key signs to keep safe in the coming season: 
  • A dark, greenish sky 
  • Large hail 
  • A loud roaring sound, like a freight trail
  •  Clouds rotating
Tornadoes are most likely to occur between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m. - often happening when we are at home eating dinner, sleeping, or enjoying family time.  This is why it’s important to have a NOAA weather radio nearby, programmed and powered up.  Remember, outdoor warning sirens are designed to warn people of dangerous weather approaching and the necessity to get inside and turn on a weather broadcast or NOAA weather radio for weather related information. 

There are dozens of outdoor warning sirens located all across Saint Paul and Ramsey County, and they can be independently activated for the specific areas under severe weather watch.  If you do hear the sirens go off, heed the warning and get indoors.  If you’re driving, safely pull off and find somewhere to provide protection until the all clear is given.

Most new cell phones have warning alerts built right in as an included service - just one more tool available to warn you of severe weather threats and hazards. 

Key terminology to understand:
  • Tornado Watch - Tornadoes are possible. Remain alert for approaching storms. Watch the sky and stay tuned to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio or television for information
  • Tornado Warning - A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. Take shelter immediately
  • Severe Thunderstorm Watch - Tells you when and where severe thunderstorms are likely to occur. Watch the sky and stay tuned to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio or television for information
  • Severe Thunderstorm Warning - Issued when severe weather has been reported by spotters or indicated by radar. Warnings indicate imminent danger to life and property to those in the path of the storm
In addition to tornadoes, the potential for strong storms and lightning is ripe.  Remember the 30/30 Lightning Safety Rule: If the time between when you see the flash and hear the thunder is 30 seconds or less, the lightening is dangerously close.  
Here are a few tips to watch for when the weather gets bad: 
  • Avoid contact with any metal –tractors, motorcycles, bicycles or golf clubs 
  • Avoid plumbing - Do not take a shower or wash dishes or do laundry - plumbing and bathroom fixtures are great conductors for electricity.  
  •  Do not stand under trees - while the tree may shield you from rain they are a target for lightning.  
  •  Unplug electronic equipment before the storms begins.

Remember to take time and prepare your severe weather safety kit before an emergency happens. 
A good weather kit will include: 
  • Extra batteries
  • Flashlights
  • Whistles
  • Closed-toe shoes/sneakers
  • Water
  • Non-perishable food
  • Medicine
  •  Baby food
Remember kids and pets; prepare baby food, formula, diapers, wipes, snacks, toys, pet food and water bowl and a favorite chew toy.  Don’t forget about those family members with medical, other accessibility needs, or less mobile elderly.

If power lines or other utilities are damaged, the City will move quickly to restore these services – but there will still be some time without that power. If you encounter downed power lines, stay away.  Utilize alternate sources for informing family and friends you are ok, such as social media or through the Red Cross message system. 

For more on how to prepare for severe weather, visit

View more tips at:  Preparing Makes Sense   10 Pre-Blackout Tips  #BeAForce

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