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Severe Weather Awareness Week March 27-31 Make plans now to be prepared for severe weather

March 28, 2017
David Swartz - Managing Editor ( , Estherville News

By David Swartz

Managing Editor

It's severe weather awareness week this week and that means it's time to take stock of how you are prepared for tornadoes, high winds and heavy rains.

Article Photos

Knowing when severe weather is possible will give you time to prepare.

You can always find current conditions, forecasts and hazardous weather information at .

If you're not on your computer, you can access the same information via your mobile device at

During the 2017 Severe Weather Awareness Week, the National Weather Service in Des Moines has set up a topic for each day of the week.

Monday Severe Thunderstorms

As Iowans well know, a thunderstorm can bring in high winds, hail and heavy rains.

Not too many years ago, a hail storm damaged several roofs in Estherville that resulted in many residents eventually replacing them.

A thunderstorm is considered severe if it produces hail at least 1 inch in diameter (size of a quarter) and/or has wind gusts of at least 58 miles per hour. Every thunderstorm produces lightning, which kills more people some years than tornadoes.

According to the National Weather Service, there were two deaths by lightning in Iowa in 2015-one was a rancher rounding up his cattle near Moscow, Iowa, when he was struck; the second was a woman walking across a campground near Palo, Iowa.

Heavy rain from thunderstorms can cause flashing flooding. Estherville residents may remember a 5-inch rain that fell during the weekend of the Iowa High School Rodeo in May that displayed visitors at the Emmet County Fairgrounds while also causing widespreading flooding around town.

High winds can damage homes and blow down trees and utility poles,c ausing widespread power outages.

Remember these tips.

n Watch for signs of a thunderstorm, like darkening skies or lighning flashes.

n If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be in danger from lihgntning. In thunder roars, go indoors. Don't wait for rain.

n Avoid using corded electrical equipment during a thunderstorm.

n Keep away from windows during a thunderstorm.

Tuesday Warning Reception

One of the most important precautions you can take to protect yourself and your family from severe weather is to remain weather aware. Being weather aware means you are informed of the weather forecast and alert to the potential hazards. Knowing what to do and where to go when watches and warnings are issued is key to your safety.

Weather watch and warning information is available through the Internet, commercial television and radio, NOAA All-Hazards Weather Radio and through mobile devices.

Wednesday Tornadoes

In 2016, there were 43 tornadoes in Iowa. 48 is the average number of tornadoes in the state. The peak months for tornadoes are May and June. Every month in Iowa has experienced a tornado. Most tornadoes occur during the afternoon and evening hours.

According to National Weather Service, the last confirmed sighting of a tornado in Emmet County was in 2014 near Dolliver.

However just last year, a small tornado damaged a shed at West Okoboji and there were three small tornadoes spotted a few miles of Algona with one causing some crop damage.

Now is the time to plan and prepare for where you would go during a tornado at home, at work or school and while commuting. Plans will vary based upon your unique circumstances.

Thursday Family Preparedness

Severe weather can happen anytime. Severe weather can include hazardous conditions produced by thunderstorms including damaging winds, large hail, tornadoes and flooding.

Your family may not be together during severe weather, so it's important to think about the following situations and plan just in case. Consider the following questions when making a plan:

o How will my family get emergency alerts and warnings?

o How will my family get to safe locations for relevant emergencies?

o How will my family get in touch if cell phone, internet or landline doesn't work?

o How will I let loved ones know I am safe?

Friday Flooding

Flooding is one of the leading causes of weather related fatalities in the United States.

As mentioned above, Estherville has had its share of heavy rains with several inches in a short amount of time. While there are few spots in the area where even flash flooding could take lives, it would be wise to keep on weather when traveling elsewhere.

On average, flooding claims nearly 90 lives each year. More than half of these deaths occur in motor vehicles when people attempt to drive through flooded roadways. This happens because people underestimate the force and power of water, especially when it is moving.

Just 6 inches of fast-moving water can knock over and carry off an adult. Twelve inches of water can float a small car. If that water is moving, it can carry that car away. Eighteen to 24 inches of flowing water can carry away most vehicles, including large SUVs. It is impossible to tell the exact depth of water covering a roadway or the condition of the road below the water. This is especially true at night when your vision is more limited. It is never safe to drive or walk through floodwaters. Any time you come to a flooded road, walkway, or path, follow this simple rule:

Turn Around, Don't Drown.



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