Tornadoes At Home Texas is prime spawning ground for tornadoes. In fact, Texas has more tornadoes than any other state in the country. You would think Texans would be prepared for such occurrences, but the majority of people in the state are not.
If you are home when a tornado strikes, go to the innermost part of your house on the lowest floor (such as a bathroom or closet with no windows). Remember to cover and protect your head.
If you live in a mobile home, go outside and lay in a ditch or ravine.
Tornadoes On The Road
Tornadoes can pop up quickly here in Texas. If you are driving during a thunderstorm, be aware that more severe weather could be around the corner.
If you are on the road and see a tornado, leave your car immediately. Do not try to drive away from the storm.
If you have time, get inside a building. If there is no time to find shelter, lie flat in a ditch or ravine and cover your head with your arms. Do not take cover under the car.
Tornado Watch or Warning?
You should also know the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning.
A tornado watch means, “watch” the sky. Weather conditions are right for tornadoes to form.
A tornado warning indicates a tornado has been sighted or identified on radar. Take cover immediately
The number one weather-related cause of death in Texas is flash flooding.
Most flash flood victims fall into two categories:
• Motorists trying to cross a low flooded area
• Children or young adults playing around flood waters
Flash Flood Facts
Flash flooding most frequently occurs across Texas from late afternoon into the early morning hours, when it is too dark to clearly see the danger. Even in the daytime, a flash flood is deceptive because light is “bent” as it travels through water, making the water appear to be shallow when it is really dangerously deep.
Because we look at flooding from the side or the bank, we judge the speed of the water from the edge of the flow, another dangerous misconception. The water on the outside of the flow is traveling slower because of the friction along the banks that slows it down. Flooding may also hide damage to a roadway or bridge crossing and large holes or even mini-canyons could be hidden beneath a street. Cars, trucks and sport utility vehicles (SUV’s) are especially vulnerable in flash floods, even if they have four-wheel drive. For every foot water rises, it can displace 1,500 pounds of automobile. As little as two feet of flooding will float most cars, and with electric windows and door locks, cars become death traps when passengers cannot get out due to electrical failures.
Never try to walk, swim or drive through swift water. Avoid flooded roads, streets, bridges and low water areas. If your vehicle stalls in deep water, you can try to move to higher ground, but you may not be able to do so safely. There are usually air pockets at the very top of the roof of the car and you may be able to survive for a short period.
Always stay informed about the weather by listening to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio or television for the latest flash flood watches and warnings. A flash flood watch means that flooding is possible – watch out for it and be alert. A flash flood warning means flooding has been reported – take immediate precautions to insure your safety. If you have even the slightest doubt about the “look” of a flood area – STOP! Turn around and go back. Your car, truck or SUV is not designed as a white-water river raft – don’t try to make it perform like one.
The Division of Emergency Management warns people not to drive through high water or in flooded areas. When water begins to run curb deep in the streets, beware of flash flooding. As little as six inches of fast moving water can knock you off your feet and as little as one foot can cause a compact car to lose control and float away.
Don’t be a statistic in the next round of flash floods. Pay attention to the warnings and do not take chances. That “must have” carton of milk or bag of potato chips can wait. No destination or appointment is worth the loss of your life or that of a loved one
On average, six people die each year in Texas from lightning strikes.
If you are caught outside in a thunderstorm, get inside a building.
If you have to stay outside:
• Keep away from metal objects
• Stay below ground level,
• Stay away from hilltops,
• Stay away from open areas or fields
• Most important, stay away from open water and tall trees. Both are great lightning conductors.
Did You Know?
Lightning kills more Americans than tornadoes and hurricanes each year.
Being inside a building or even a car during a thunderstorm can decrease your chances of being struck by lightning. Stay up to date on weather conditions when planning camping trips, swimming, fishing, golf or other outdoor activities.
Lightning follows only flooding as the most common cause of weather-related deaths in Texas.
Many people are not aware of this fact, since lightning tends to strike only one or two victims at a time which doesn’t always make front-page headlines. Still, the numbers add up and everyone’s level of concern needs to remain high, especially as spring and summer arrive.
You can estimate the distance to lightning by watching for the flash and counting the number of seconds until thunder is heard.
For every five seconds you count, the lightning is one mile away
There are several types of lightning discharges.
Most discharges occur inside the storm – from the storm into the air, or from beneath the storm into the ground.
Stronger, brighter and more powerful bolts can also strike from the side of the storm, reaching the ground several miles away from the storm itself. These cloud-to-air and within-cloud strikes can be seen from 20 to 30 miles away or more. At this point, watch closely to see if the storms are approaching. If you can hear thunder or can see a strike to the ground, you are within 10 to 15 miles and in a high danger zone.
What To Do
You should have a safe location in mind and be ready to move to it quickly. If you are with a group, alert them to this threat and make sure everyone knows how to get to safety without delay.
A storm cell containing lightning can travel at 60 mph or one mile per minute. You need to allow plenty of time to get to safety. If you are with a large group that reacts slowly, the safety time required may be 10 to 15 minutes. If you are close to shelter and can move quickly, you may need only five minutes. This is only an estimate and if the lightning is extremely intense, bright, or frequent you should begin to move earlier.
Lightning tends to strike tall objects and metal objects and can travel through moist soil for dozens of feet. To select the best shelter, move into a sturdy building and stay away from windows and doors. For increased protection, avoid electric appliances or metal plumbing. Stay off the telephone.
If you are outside, the interior of a car, truck or bus is relatively safe from lightning. To be safer, do not touch metal on the inside of the vehicle. The outside bed of a truck is a deadly and dangerous location. Other vehicles are safer since their outside shells spread out the lightning charge, weakening it and leaking it to the ground. It is not because thin rubber tires are grounding them.
If you are outdoors with no shelter available as lightning approaches:
• Stay low.
• Move away from hills and high places and avoid tall, isolated trees.
• Do not touch metal objects, such as tennis rackets, baseball bats and golf clubs. • Do not ride bicycles or lean against fences or metal sheds.
• Do not lean on a car or truck.
• Get inside quickly.
If you feel your hair suddenly stand on end, it means you may be a lightning target. Crouch low on the balls of your feet and try not to touch the ground with your knees or hands. Avoid wet areas that can conduct the lightning charge.
Remember to keep using these safety rules until the thunderstorm has dissipated or moved well away
Fire Department Contact
Fax: (254) 412-7546
Chief: (254) 412-7540
Marshal: (254) 412-7541