Unless you live under a rock (in which case, you probably would not be reading this), you are well aware of the devastation that tornadoes have caused this Spring in many parts of the United States.
Since I live in Texas, I have grown up with knowledge of the dangers of tornadoes and the need to take them seriously. What I don't understand is when people hear about tornado warnings and don't heed them.
That has been a recurring theme in news reports today, regarding Joplin, MO, Minneapolis, MN, and also from the south a couple of weeks ago. The survivors who said they had some warning often did not take it seriously. It has become painfully clear just how terrible tornadoes can be.
So, I am urging you, dear readers, to pay attention to the weather this Spring. It seems to be a particularly violent tornado season this year, and a little awareness goes a long way.
I will admit that I am naturally respectful of severe weather, so during the Spring I automatically watch for tornado forecasts as soon as there's a sprinkle or a gray sky. I realize not everyone is like me. However, my husband actually told me that he takes comfort in the fact that I am always watching (maybe obsessively) this time of year. He knows that if there is some possibility of severe weather, I'll know all about it.
So, what can you do?
1. Educate yourself. If you don't live in an area normally affected by tornadoes, you should still be aware of what they are and what to do in the event they head your way. Spring is tornado season, with May typically being the busiest month. But tornadoes can happen all season, and can occur in unusaly places. They can also occur without much warning.
A tornado watch means that conditions are favorable for a tornado to occur.
A tornado warning means that a tornado has been detected by doppler radar OR that a tornado has been spotted on the ground. In the case of a tornado warning, please seek shelter immediately. You won't regret running to shelter if nothing happens, but you may very likely regret not running to shelter if your home or your family are harmed (if you live to regret it at all).
2. Prepare. If you have an underground shelter, you're more than halfway there. So if a tornado warning is issued for your area, by all means take shelter! If you don't have an underground shelter, move to an inside room (such as a closet or hallway that does not have an exterior wall) and cover yourself with blankets and pillows, or a mattress if possible. Hunker down low. Take a cell phone and a flash light. Get a weather radio. These can be programmed to alert you if a warning is issued in your county and other nearby counties. Make sure it has battery back-up in case of a power outage.
3. Watch the skies and stay alert. Check the weather on TV, radio, or the internet. We like to check our local TV station's website for the latest updates, and also weather.com, the Weather Channel's website. They will both notify you of watches and warnings in your area.
4. Be aware of the TOR:CON index. This is something invented by a chief meterologist at the Weather Channel. It predicts the probability of tornadoes all across the country for any given day. You can check it on weather.com or follow Greg Forbes on Facebook to get regular updates. He has been hauntingly right in his predictions this year.
5. Trust God. He created this earth, and He knows what will happen. If His eye is on the sparrow, you can be sure that He knows all about you, and all about the storms. (I tend to lean toward the worst kind of fear during a severe storm with tornado watch, so I have had many hours of practice trusting God to protect my family and home when circumstances are out of my control.)
I pray that you and your family are never affected by tornadoes, but if one should come your way, be smart and be safe.