Getting Indiana Part of a Weather Ready Nation
The National Weather Service has been promoting an initiative during the last year or two called “Becoming a Weather Ready Nation.” What does this mean? The concept is to promote preparedness for severe and adverse weather for every citizen across the country. It is obvious that for our part of the country, people should be Weather Ready for the following weather:
Severe Thunderstorms: storms that produce hail 1-inch in diameter or larger, thunderstorm winds of 58 mph or greater or produce damage, and/or tornadoes.
Winter Storms: moderate to heavy snow, freezing rain or sleet (ice storms), and blizzards. Even snow of less than one-inch with temperatures around 30 degrees can cause problems during peak travel times can cause problems. And, “black ice” can cause significant travel problems. “Black ice” is considered ice so thin and forms in that transition phase between ice and water that cause slippery conditions.
Floods and Flash Floods: June 2008 produced a 2-day period of rain, with as much as 8″ of rain falling almost four years to the day. Major flooding affected Columbus, IN as well as parts of Johnson County. Always remember: Turn Around, Don’t Drown!
Heat and Sun: Temperatures in the 90s combined with humid air can cause feel-like conditions to around 100 degrees. The Sun can cause sunburn, obviously. But, did you know that the combination of sun and scattered clouds heightens sunburn potential? Yes! The sun’s ultraviolet rays scatter off clouds and can enhance burn and skin cancer. Always remember: Beat the Heat-Check the Backseat!
These are the main threats to Indianapolis and Indiana. But, in 2010, we experienced “fire weather” in parts of the state. These were hot conditions with temperatures in the 90s, low relative humidity and winds strong enough to fan field fires. Conditions were favorable enough in August and September that during the corn harvest, two combines sparked fires and burned the fields and the combine!
The year 2011 was a very active year for tornadoes. Across the country, there were 1,692 tornadoes in 2011, but it was the deadliest year since 1936. As many as 551 people were killed by 59 tornadoes, which is the most killer tornadoes since 1974. Everyone remember 1974 in Indiana? The state of Indiana reports 72 tornadoes in 2011 which set a record, breaking the old mark of 49 set in 1990 (Fig. 1). The 72 tornadoes in Indiana in 2011 was the eighth highest, along with Illinois, in the country. There were NO tornado fatalities reported in Indiana in such a dangerous year! But, 2012 has already produced a tornado outbreak that effected parts of southern Indiana killing five people in Henryville, IN. This outbreak spread across parts of Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia with the most damaging being Henryville with damage rated at EF4.
Fig. 1: Number of confirmed tornadoes in Indiana 1950 – 2011. (Source SPC Database).
Fig. 2: Number of days each year (1950 – 2011) at least 1 tornado was reported to occur in Indiana. (SPC)
So, how does someone become Weather Ready? That is a really good question, and also the $64 million question. Most people are Weather AWARE because they enjoy weather, they watch weather, most people get into weather. But, are you Weather Ready and what does this mean?
First, PREPAREDNESS. Purchase a NOAA Weather Radio (NWR). These radios transmit NOAA weather information from your local National Weather Service day or night. Programmable NWRs allow you to program what warnings and watches you want alarmed on your radio. They also allow you to program what counties are affected by the warnings and watches. How to program a NWR can be found on the NWS Indianapolis web site weather.gov/ind or by entering NOAA Weather Radio on Google or BING. It is encouraged that you program the NWR to include, not only the county you live in, program the NWR to include counties immediately to the WEST of where you live to get advanced warning for weather coming your way. Studies done by social scientists indicate that almost 3/4th of people who receive warnings go to a second source. So, maybe turn off your television on the station you prefer for weather information so that when you turn the television on, you are immediately receiving updated weather information.
Take a day or two to role play in your mind a moderate or high risk day for severe weather. As you go through your daily routine, ask where would I go if I was here (home, office, grocery store, the mall, etc)? What would I do if I was in my car during these routines and a tornado warning was issued? Do you have an emergency kit at home, at the office, or in your car? Questions like that.
Here are some resources to prepare to become Weather Ready:
If you have any questions on becoming Weather Ready, contact your local National Weather Service Office.
Be Ready. Be Prepared. Be Safe.