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Be prepared for severe spring weather

EDITORIAL

The Advocate-Messenger

The old saying goes “April showers bring May flowers,” but they also bring chances of severe weather.

As spring weather starts in Kentucky, weather officials also start warning of severe weather, particularly thunderstorms, tornadoes and flooding.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, spring weather can be unpredictable.

“Spring is the time of year when many things change — including the weather. Temperatures can swing back and forth between balmy and frigid. Sunny days may be followed by a week of stormy weather. Sometimes extreme weather changes can occur even within the same day,” the CDC reports. “Thunderstorms cause most of the severe spring weather. They can bring lightning, tornadoes and flooding. Whenever warm, moist air collides with cool, dry air, thunderstorms can occur. For much of the world, this happens in spring and summer.”

Because the weather can be so unpredictable this time of year, planning ahead is crucial. That is why March is a time for severe weather preparedness in Kentucky.

Gov. Matt Bevin proclaimed the first week of March as the Severe Weather Preparedness Week and the month is used a time to promote planning for the weather events that we can expect to experience in the coming weeks.

The CDC and National Weather Service offer these tips for preparing for spring’s unpredictable and potentially dangerous weather:

• Keep an emergency kit on hand. Include in the kit a battery-operated flashlight, a battery-operated NOAA Weather Radio and extra batteries for both; an emergency evacuation or shelter plan, including a map of your home and, for every type of severe weather emergency, routes to safety from each room; a list of important personal information, including telephone numbers of neighbors, family, and friends, insurance and property information, telephone numbers of utility companies and medical information; a three- to five-day supply of bottled water and nonperishable food, personal hygiene items, blankets or sleeping bags, a first aid kit and an emergency kit for your car.

• Prepare your family members for the possibility of severe weather. Tell them where to seek appropriate shelter as soon as they are aware of an approaching storm.

• Practice your emergency plan for every type of severe weather.

• Show family members where the emergency supplies are stored, and make sure they know how to turn off the water, gas  and electricity in your home.

• In the case of tornadoes and thunderstorms, seek a sturdy shelter in an interior room away from window on the lowest floor and cover your head. A basement or cellar would be best.

• Stay up-to-date on weather forecasts. Get a weather radio and make sure your cell phone can receive localized alert from emergency management officials.

While these warnings seem redundant and basic, hundreds of people die each year because of severe weather.

The National Weather Service reports that winds from tornados can exceed 200 miles per hour and flying debris can be most dangerous. Severe thunderstorms produce damaging wind, hail and often flooding. More than half of all flood fatalities are vehicle-related, as it takes only 12 inches of rushing water to carry away a vehicle. Lightning strikes kill an average of 30 people every year.

We encourage you to spend the last few days of March preparing yourself, your home and family.

Visit weather.gov or ready.gov for more information about the need for preparedness and how to put together an emergency plan for your home or office.