We have this great little app from The Weather Channel that sends us text messages when severe weather alerts have been issued for our zip code. Around 2:30am a few nights ago, the phone buzzed once, then again, then a third time letting us know that a Tornado Warning, then a Tornado Watch had been issued for our area. Within the next hour we’d gotten 14 messages total, alternating between watch and warning based on the direction the 70mph winds were taking the storm.
We’ve learned to take these warnings seriously — but I still don’t think we have a solid idea of what to do should a tornado be within range. This event was the closest we’ve gotten so far — there was a tornado spotted in a nearby town –and has prompted me to educate myself about what to do.
We understood that the situation was serious because people were moving into the community building. I think that’s an advantage to having fulltimers in your park — they know when things get serious. Follow their lead! Plus the power was knocked out which is a sure sign that the conditions were getting dangerous outside. Luckily we have an Eton hand-crank radio (thanks Andrea!) and several flashlights, but other than that, did we really have a clear idea of what to do? Not really.
1. What’s the difference between a Watch and a Warning?
Tornado Watch: Tornadoes are possible in and near the watch area. Review and discuss your emergency plans, and check supplies and your safe room. Be ready to act quickly if a warning is issued or you suspect a tornado is approaching. Acting early helps to save lives!
Tornado Warning: A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. Tornado warnings indicate imminent danger to life and property. Go immediately under ground to a basement, storm cellar or an interior room (closet, hallway or bathroom).
2. Understand that a trailer or 5th wheel is not a safe place during a tornado.
3. If you’re in a high risk area during tornado season, know if the park or campground has a warning system.
4. Bring in your outdoor items if there’s even a remote chance of a storm. Even if a tornado doesn’t occur, 70mph winds can still toss around your garden gnome and rip down your flags, possibly causing damage to the outside of your trailer or to someone else’s.
Tips from us:
- Think about having to evacuate. Run through it in your mind like an Olympic athlete runs through the course before the competition.
- Remember your pets… should you get separated, does your dog or cat have tags that indicate you’re the person to call if someone else finds them?
- Know where your flashlights and radio are.
- This is just me, but when disaster strikes, the news always shows people in their pajamas and slippers outside staring at the damage… I refuse to be one of those people in my pajamas. If I know there’s a storm coming, I might take the time to wear sweatpants and sit my shoes by my bed. (How was I NOT a Girl Scout?)
- Think about your no power, no TV plan – we keep our smart phones stocked with emergency apps and our wind up radio handy. Here are links to our favorite iphone apps for weather tracking:
- Sign up for at least one weather response txt messaging / email service. In the USA, Weather.com offers a free subscription to one – subscribe here.
How about you? Do you have any tips or tricks that help you avoid the wrath of Mother Nature? We’d love to here about them – leave a comment or email us!