Tips for Thought

When Nature Throws a Tantrum: Navigating Extreme Weather Conditions

The news of heavy rainfall and snowfall across the US reminds us that extreme weather conditions can happen anywhere and anytime. It is crucial to be prepared and stay safe during such events. So let’s go through some guidelines on how to deal with extreme weather and stay safe.

1. Prepare an emergency kit

An emergency kit should include enough food, water, and medication for at least three days. You should also include a battery-powered radio, flashlight, extra batteries, candles, waterproof matches, and a first aid kit. If you have pets, prepare supplies for them as well. Having this kit ready ahead of time will help ensure you’re prepared if disaster strikes. See this emergency battery with radio and torch available on Amazon.

2. Secure your home

Prepare your home before the weather event by securing windows and doors and trimming branches and trees that may fall on your property. Check for leaks and clear gutters to prevent water damage. Have a backup power source ready in case of power outages. See this portable power station sold on Amazon.

3. Know the warning signs 

Keep an eye out for potential signs of an impending snow storm. Pay attention to changes in barometric pressure, unusually calm winds, darkening skies, strange animal behavior, etc. Knowing these warning signs will help you better prepare for bad weather before it hits.

4. Know your risk areas and stay away from flood-prone streets

Be aware of areas prone to flooding or mudslides near your home. If possible, make plans to avoid those areas during heavy rain or storms. If evacuation is necessary due to severe weather conditions, know the best route ahead of time. Keep a handy map showing areas prone to flooding so you can plan accordingly when traveling in bad weather.

Flash floods can occur quickly, so avoid driving or walking through floodwaters. Also, avoid elevated streams, creeks, and other watercourses prone to flash flooding. If caught in a flash flood, move to higher ground immediately.

5. Stay warm and dry

If you are stuck outside during a snowstorm, keep warm and dry. Wear warm clothing and waterproof boots. Cover your head and face to prevent frostbite. Seek shelter if possible.

See what The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends wearing.

6. Avoid driving in hazardous conditions

If you must drive during extreme weather conditions, slow down and keep a safe distance from other vehicles. Use snow tires or chains, and avoid using cruise control. Keep your gas tank full and inform someone about your travel route. Check this traction device available on Amazon.

7. Stay connected with your community

Check on your neighbors, especially those who may need extra assistance, such as the elderly or those with disabilities. Offer help and support wherever possible.

8. Have a communication plan with your family

This is so everyone knows what to do if severe weather occurs. Ensure everyone has access to the contact information of other family members and contacts outside the home who can help during an emergency. Establish designated locations where family members should meet during extreme weather events if necessary.

9. Stay informed and follow directions

Before the extreme weather event, stay informed about the weather updates and advisories issued by local authorities. Monitor local media and monitor the National Weather Service’s alerts and warnings. Pay close attention to local news broadcasts or emergency alerts from local officials such as police or fire departments—instructions they give regarding evacuation orders or notices about potential danger zones in your area caused by storms or floods.

The National Weather Service (NWS) Weather Prediction Center (WPC) uses different levels to classify the severity of a weather event. These levels range from “minor” (level 1) to “catastrophic” (level 5). The exact definitions of these levels vary depending on the type of event. Still, in general, they can be described as follows:

Level I or Minor: This level indicates minor to the moderate impact that could cause some disruption. It is typically associated with small-scale events such as localized flooding or strong winds.

Level II or Moderate: This level indicates a moderate impact that could lead to more severe and widespread disruptions. It generally includes larger-scale events such as hurricanes, tornadoes, and blizzards.

Level III or Significant: This level indicates significant impacts and major disruptions that could cause long-term damage or even death. It encompasses large-scale events such as extreme floods, severe thunderstorms, and severe winter weather systems.

Level IV or Extreme: This level indicates intense impacts with the potential for extreme destruction and loss of life. Events at this level are usually devastating, such as an active hurricane season or a tornado outbreak.

Level V or Catastrophic: This is the highest level and indicates catastrophic impacts that can lead to unprecedented destruction and wide-reaching effects for months or even years after an event. Events at this level include megafloods, massive storms with destructive winds, and nuclear accidents with more significant ramifications outside their immediate area.

Source: Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale