As we head into spring we think of warmer days, blooming flowers and leaves returning to the trees. We are also aware that spring brings severe weather to the Tennessee Valley. To remind everyone of this and make sure you're prepared, this week has been declared Severe Weather Awareness week across Alabama and Tennessee. Now is a good time to review your safety plan. We'll spend this week talking about the different forms of severe weather we see around here and what are the best ways to keep you and your family safe.
Today's topic covers the threats posed by Severe Thunderstorms. The peak time of year for severe thunderstorms is during the months of March, April and May. Most severe thunderstorms occur between the mid-afternoon and mid-evening hours. While most of our severe weather fits that mold, keep in mind, under the right atmospheric conditions, severe thunderstorms can form at any time of day or night, and at any time of year. Thunderstorms in general are common in our area, but there are 3 specific things that make an ordinary thunderstorm become one that is considered severe:
- Anytime a thunderstorm produces a tornado
- Straight-line wind gusts of 58mph or higher
- Hail the size of quarters or larger (1"+ in diameter)
Damaging wind poses a significant threat to life and property and occurs 10-20 times more frequently than tornadoes do. Wind gusts of 80-100 mph can do just as much damage as weak tornadoes, and usually impact a much larger area than a tornado would.
Large hail can do significant damage as well to cars, homes and crops. Hail in our area typically only gets as large as golf balls, but on occasion can be the size of baseballs.
When seeking shelter from severe thunderstorms, get inside a sturdy building, making sure to stay away from windows.
WAFF 48 Storm Team