Severe Weather

There are a number of severe weather situations that may have an effect on building operations. Our primary concern is for the safety of the building occupants.

Severe Thunderstorm

A severe thunderstorm is defined as a storm that produces hail at least 3/4-inch in diameter and/or winds of 58 mph or higher. These storms spawn tornados.


Severe Thunderstorm Watch - Severe thunderstorms are possible in the watch area. Remain alert for approaching storms.

Severe Thunderstorm Warning - Severe thunderstorms are occurring in the warning area. Remain alert to signs of an approaching storm and seek shelter if threatening conditions exist.

Look For:

  • Darkening skies
  • Towering thunderhead clouds
  • Lightning
  • Increasing winds

Emergency Actions:

  • Plan ahead as to what actions you will take in the event a severe thunderstorm may occur in your area.
  • During watches be prepared to take immediate action.
  • During warnings, if the skies become threatening, take immediate action.
  • Go inside a home or large building or an all-metal automobile (not a convertible).
  • Do not use telephones except for emergencies.
  • Do not stand under or near a tall isolated tree or a telephone pole.
  • In a heavily wooded area, seek shelter in a low area under a thick growth of small trees.
  • In open areas, go to a low place such as a ravine or valley.
  • Get off or away from open water, tractors and other farm equipment, motorcycles, bicycles, golf carts, etc.
  • Stay away from wire fences, clotheslines, metal pipes and rails.
  • If you are in a group in the open, spread out, keeping people several yards apart.


Lightning may strike miles away from the parent cloud. Precautions should be taken even if the thunderstorm is not directly overhead. If you are caught in a level field or open area and you feel your hair stand on end, lighting may be about to strike you. Drop to our knees and bend forward, putting your hands on your knees. Do not lie flat on the ground.


Tornados travel at an average speed of 30 mph, but have been known to reach speeds of 70 miles per hour. While most tornado damage is caused by the violent winds, most tornado injuries and deaths result from flying debris. Tornado winds can reach speeds of over 200 mph. Some tornados are clearly visible; while rain or low hanging clouds obstruct others. Tornados may appear nearly transparent until dust and debris are picked up into the column of air.


  • Tornado Watch - Weather conditions are such that tornados are possible in the watch area. Remain alert for approaching storms.
  • Tornado Warning - A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. Remain alert to signs of an approaching tornado and seek shelter if threatening conditions exist.

Look For:

  • Severe thunderstorms
  • Dark, often greenish colored sky
  • Large hail, 3/4-inch in diameter or more
  • Loud roar; similar to a freight train

Emergency Actions:

  • Plan ahead as to what actions you will take in the event a tornado occurs in your area.
  • During watches be prepared to take immediate action.
  • During warnings, if the skies become threatening, take immediate action.
  • In a building, go to the basement or to an interior part of the lowest level, away from windows, doors and outside walls.
  • In high-rise buildings, go to interior small rooms or hallways on the lowest floor possible.
  • In most cases closets, bathrooms (without windows) and interior halls offer the best protection.
  • Get under something sturdy, lie face down, draw your knees up under you and cover the back of your head with your hands.
  • Mobile homes, even if anchored, offer little protection from tornados and should be abandoned.
  • If there is no nearby shelter, lie down flat in the nearest ditch or ravine.


A hurricane is an intense tropical weather system with a well-defined circulation and minimum sustained winds of 74 mph or higher. Hurricane season in the Atlantic/Caribbean region starts in June and extends through November. In the United States, the peak hurricane threat exists from mid-August to late-October. An average of ten tropical storms (six of which become hurricanes) develop over the Atlantic/ Caribbean each year. Typically, five hurricanes strike the United States coastline every 3 years. Of these five, two will be major hurricanes (Category 3 or greater). Category 3 hurricanes produce sustained winds of over 110 mph. The most violent activity takes place around the eye, called the eyewall, of the hurricane. As hurricanes move ashore they sweep the ocean inward, spawn tornados and produce torrential rains and flooding. Although property damage has increased in recent years, timely warnings have greatly diminished hurricane fatalities in the United States.

Along the immediate coast, the storm surge is the greatest threat to life and property. The major threat to inland areas is flooding from the torrential rains. Hurricane-force winds can destroy poorly constructed buildings and mobile homes. Debris left outside during a hurricane can become flying missiles, which can cause injury or death.


Hurricane Watch - Hurricane conditions are possible in the area specified in the watch, usually within 36 hours. Prepare to take immediate action.

Hurricane Warning - Hurricane conditions are expected in the warning area, usually within 24 hours. Complete all storm preparations and evacuate if directed by local officials.

Plan Ahead:

  • Plan what actions you will take in the event a hurricane may occur in your area.
  • Know the hurricane risk in your area.
  • Learn safe routes inland.
  • If you live in a mobile home, plan to evacuate. These dwellings are unsafe in high winds, no matter how well they are anchored.
  • If you live in a high-rise, plan to evacuate. Hurricane winds are stronger at higher elevations.
  • If you live on a coastline, an offshore island, or near a river or a flood plain, plan to evacuate.
  • Know where local shelters are located.
  • Review your insurance policy.

Within The Warning Area:

  • Monitor radio and television broadcasts for official weather bulletins.
  • Complete preparation activities, such as putting up storm shutters, storing loose objects, etc.
  • Follow instructions issued by local officials and, if evacuating, leave early - if possible, in daylight.
  • In the final analysis, the only real defense against hurricanes is the informed readiness of your community, your family and you.


Flash floods are the number one weather-related killer in the United States. Six inches of fast-moving water can knock you off your feet. Twenty-four inches of water will carry away most automobiles. Nearly half of all flash flood fatalities are auto related. Be aware that roadways may not be intact under floodwaters. Flash flooding occurs within 6 hours of the rain event. Flash flood waters can move at incredible speeds, uprooting trees, moving boulders, and destroying bridges and buildings.

Most flash flooding is caused by slow-moving thunderstorms, thunderstorms repeatedly moving over the same area or heavy rains from hurricanes and tropical storms. Occasionally, floating debris or ice can restrict the flow of water at natural or man-made obstructions. Flash flooding can occur downstream when the ice or debris are suddenly released.

Environmental Clues:

  • Listen for distant thunderstorms - runoff from a faraway thunderstorm could be headed your way.
  • Look out for rapidly rising water.
  • When driving look out for flooding at highway dips, bridges and low areas.

Flash Flood Watch or Flood Watch - Flash flooding or flooding is possible within the designated watch areas - Be Alert.

Flash Flood Warning or Floor Warnings - Flash flooding or flooding has been reported or is imminent - take necessary precautions at once.

Urban and Small Stream Advisory - Flooding of small streams, streets and low-lying areas, such as railroad underpasses and urban storm drains, is occurring.

Emergency Actions:

  • Plan ahead as to what actions you will take in the event a flash flood occurs in your area.
  • Remember - you may only have seconds to react when confronted with a flash flood.
  • During watches be prepared to take immediate action.
  • During warnings if the skies become threatening, take immediate action.
  • Get out of areas subject to flooding and head for higher ground.
  • Avoid already flooded and high velocity flow areas.
  • Never drive through flooded roadways - the depth of floodwaters is not always obvious.
  • If your vehicle stalls, leave it immediately and seek higher ground.
  • Be extra cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood dangers.
  • Never allow children to play around high water, storm drains, viaducts or gullies.
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