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Monday April 28, 2014

This is the first of a five part series on severe weather safety which will run each day during New York's Severe Weather Awareness Week. 

Governor Andrew Cuomo has declared this week, April 28th through May 2th, Severe Weather Awareness Week in New York. NOAA's National Weather Service joins Governor Cuomo in partnership with the agencies of the New York state disaster preparedness commission, local agencies, volunteer agencies, and private sector organizations in urging all residents to learn how to protect themselves from the hazards of flooding, tornadoes, and severe thunderstorms.

Over the last 20 years severe weather, not including floods, has killed nearly 50 people in New York and caused over one quarter of a billion dollars in damage. On average, the National Weather Service issues 400 severe thunderstorm warnings, 17 tornado warnings and about 150 flash flood warnings each year in New York state. To reduce your chances of being killed or injured by severe weather, it is important to understand the meaning of severe weather watches and warnings.

Severe thunderstorms are defined as those thunderstorms that produce winds of 58 mph or greater and or hail of one inch in diameter or larger.

  • A Severe Thunderstorm Watch means that severe thunderstorms are possible over the next several hours, typically no more than six hours. You should continue with your daily routine, but be prepared to move to a place of safety should a Severe Thunderstorm Warning be issued.
  • A Severe Thunderstorm Warning means that severe thunderstorms are imminent or occuring. A warning implies a significant threat to life and property. You should seek shelter immediately when a severe thunderstorm warning is issued.

Tornadoes are violently rotating columns of air in contact with the ground and attached to the cloud base above. Like a Severe Thunderstorm Watch,

  • A Tornado Watch means that tornadoes are possible over the next several hours, again usually no more than six hours.
  • A Tornado Warning means that a tornado is imminent or occurring. A tornado warning implies an immediate threat to life and property. Take shelter immediately!

Flash Flooding is a rapid rise, within six hours, of water along a stream or low lying urban area. The most common cause of flash flooding is heavy downpours associated with thunderstorms.

  • A Flash Flood Watch means that conditions are favorable for flash flooding. continue with your daily activities, but be prepared to head to a place of safety should a flash flood warning be issued.
  • A Flash Flood Warning means that flooding is imminent or occurring. Flood waters can rise rapidly. seek shelter immediately when a Flash Flood Warning is issued.

NOAA Weather Radio offers the best way to stay in touch with dangerous weather conditions 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, whether at home, work or play. NOAA Weather Radio provides continuous broadcasts of weather information, with immediate relay of any severe weather warnings. NOAA's National Weather Service recommends everyone have access to a NOAA Weather Radio.

 

Presentation: Severe Weather Terms and Definitions - PDF format.

Tuesday April 29, 2013

This is the second of a five part series on Severe Weather Safety which will run each day during New York's severe weather awareness week.

Today we discuss what classifies a thunderstorm as severe, and what the differences are between a Severe Thunderstorm Watch and a Severe Thunderstorm Warning. We also give you information on what to do when a watch or warning is issued for your area.

What is a Severe Thunderstorm?

A severe thunderstorm is any thunderstorm that produces wind gusts of 58 miles an hour or higher, and/or hail one inch in diameter or larger. Those hailstones are about the width of a penny. Severe thunderstorms are often accompanied by torrential downpours and frequent cloud-to-ground lightning. They occasionally produce tornadoes with little or no advance warning. Sometimes very strong winds in severe thunderstorms produce damage that people mistake for tornado damage.

What is a Severe Thunderstorm Watch?

A severe thunderstorm watch means severe thunderstorms are possible in and close to the watch area. the watch is issued to alert you to the possibility that thunderstorms with damaging winds and large hail may develop. A watch does not mean severe weather is occurring. The National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center (SPC) issues a watch for many counties and for several hours at a time.

What You Should Do When a Severe Thunderstorm Watch is Issued?

Go about your normal activities, but watch the sky around you for developing storms. Periodically check NOAA Weather Radio, or television and radio stations for updates and possible warnings. Know which county you live in, and which ones border your community. If you are on vacation, or driving through an unfamiliar area, remember the name of the county you are in. Know where you are in relation to other towns or cities. Plan how to get to a safe place quickly if a warning is issued for your area, or if severe weather is observed.

What is a Severe Thunderstorm Warning?

A Severe Thunderstorm Warning means a severe thunderstorm is going to move through your county soon, so you need to take quick action to protect your life and property. Severe Thunderstorm Warnings are issued by the National Weather Service when doppler weather radar has detected a severe thunderstorm, or when one has been reported by SKYWARN Severe Weather Spotters, county emergency officials, the police, or the public. Typically the warning is issued for one or two counties at a time for a period of up to one hour.

What to do When a Severe Thunderstorm Warning is Issued?

If you are outdoors, get inside your home, a strong building, or in your car. If there is no building nearby, your best protection is in a cave or ditch. Boaters should head to shore immediately.

When indoors, go to an interior room on the lowest level. Stay away from windows and doors. do not use electrical appliances. also do not use the telephone, except in an emergency.

If you are driving, pull over to the side of the road until the storm passes. heavy rain with any thunderstorm can flood roads quickly, so never try to drive through an area where water covers the road, even if you think it is shallow. This water may sweep your vehicle away.
 

Presentation: Severe Thunderstorms - PDF format.

Wednesday April 30, 2014

This is the third in a five part series on severe weather safety which will run each day during New York's severe weather awareness week.

Today we discuss severe weather preparedness and safety. all thunderstorms, whether they are severe or not, are dangerous due to lightning. When one approaches, you need to protect yourself.

Before a storm, develop a safety plan you can implement to protect yourself and your family at home, school, work or outdoors. Identify a safe place to take shelter and know what actions to take when a warning is issued. The best way to do this is to conduct frequent drills.

Lightning is a thunderstorm's biggest killer. Do not use electrical appliances or the telephone while a thunderstorm is nearby.

If you are outdoors, seek shelter in a sturdy building. keep out of open areas. Stay away from tall objects such as isolated trees, and metal objects such as towers supporting power lines. Also stay away from wire fences, clotheslines, metal pipes, and rails. If in an automobile, do not touch metal parts or the exterior.

Lightning may be about to strike if you are out in the open and feel your hair stand on end or your skin tingle. Drop onto your tiptoes at once, bend forward and put your hands on your head. Don't lie flat on the ground.

Stay out of the water. If you are boating, head to shore at the first sign of threatening weather. In addition to the danger of lightning, gusty thunderstorm winds can easily capsize small boats.

You should also stay away from places that could flood during a thunderstorm. Flash flooding caused by heavy downpours is another thunderstorm danger. Low lying areas, especially near streams and creeks, can flood rapidly. Never drive your car into a flooded area.

Remember, thunderstorms occasionally produce tornadoes. And sometimes thunderstorm winds are strong enough to cause tornado like damage. So be prepared to move to a safe shelter when a thunderstorm is near.
 

Presentation: Severe Weather Safety - PDF format.

Thursday May 1, 2014

This is the fourth in a five part series on severe weather safety which is running in conjunction with New York's Severe Weather Awareness Week.

Today we discuss the difference between a Tornado Watch and a Tornado Warning, and give you tips on what to do when a watch or warning is issued for your area.

What is a Tornado?

A tornado is a violently rotating column of air in contact with the ground. The wind speed inside a tornado ranges from under 100 miles an hour to over 200 miles an hour. they can travel as fast as 70 mph, and can destroy virtually everything in their path.

While most tornadoes that occur in central New York are not as strong as their counterparts in the midwest, strong and damaging tornadoes can and do occur here. On May 31, 1998 and June 2, 1998, central New York was hit by several tornadoes, some of which had wind speeds up to 200 mph! On July 26, 2012 there was a tornado that moved through the heart of Elmira, NY and track for almost 14 miles. Other events include April 2011, May 26, 2011, July 18, 2011, May 31, 2002, and others.

What Does a Tornado Watch Mean?

A Tornado Watch is issued when conditions are favorable, over a large area, for tornadoes and severe thunderstorms. The Tornado Watch is issued to alert you to the possibility that severe thunderstorms are expected to develop ,and that they may produce tornadoes. The National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center (SPC) issues a tornado watch for many counties and for several hours at a time.

What You Should Do When a Tornado Watch is Issued?

Go about your normal activities, but watch the sky around you for developing storms. Periodically listen to NOAA Weather Radio, or television and radio stations for updates and possible warnings.

Know which county you live in, and which ones border your community. If you are on vacation, or driving through an unfamiliar area, remember the name of the county you are in, and where you are in relation to other towns or cities. Know how to get to a safe place quickly if a warning is issued for your area, or if thunderstorms approach.

What Does a Tornado Warning Mean?

A Tornado Warning is issued when doppler weather radar shows a developing tornado, or a when tornado has been sighted by SKYWARN Severe Weather Spotters, county emergency officials, police, or the public. The warning means a tornado is going to move through your county soon, so you need to take immediate action to protect your life and property. tornado warnings are issued by national weather service offices, typically for one county, or a portion of a county, for up to one hour.

What You Should Do When a Tornado Warning is Issued?

The key is to remain calm, but take immediate action. If you are at home or in a small building, go to the basement or to an interior room on the lowest floor. Closets, bathrooms, and other interior rooms offer the best protection. Get under something sturdy or cover yourself with a mattress.

If you are in a school, hospital, or shopping center, go to a pre-designated shelter area. Stay away from large open areas and windows. Do not go outside to your car. If you are in a high-rise building, go to an interior small room or hallway on the lowest floor possible. Do not use the elevator, use the stairs instead.

For the best protection, get under something sturdy or drop to your knees facing an interior wall. Lean forward, with your hands shielding your head.

Get out of mobile homes or vehicles. They are easily tossed about by strong winds in the tornado. Take shelter in a substantial structure. If there is no shelter nearby, lie flat in a ditch or low spot, with your hands shielding your head. Never stay inside the mobile home or vehicle.

 

Presentation: Tornadoes - PDF format.

Friday May 2, 2013

This is the fifth in a five part series on severe weather safety which is running during New York's Severe Weather Awareness Week.

Today we discuss flood safety and the differences between a Flood Watch and a Flood Warning, and tell you what to do if a watch or warning is issued for your area.

Floods Can Be Deadly

Floods are the number one killer in the United States among weather-related natural hazards by almost a two-to-one margin over the second ranked killer, lightning. The main cause of death during floods comes from automobiles being swept away by flood waters. many people die in floods because they try to cross flooded roadways!

Central New York - A Long History of Floods

Devastating floods are no stranger to central new york. In fact, flooding ranks as the biggest threat to many communities in our region. There are many ways that flooding can develop over our area.

  • A tropical feed of moisture parked over the area for several days such as June 2006 or September 2011. Both events caused catastrophic flooding over a large portion of central New York.
  • Stationary thunderstorms caused a major flood in July 1935 and in Delaware county in June 2007.
  • Tropical storms Agnes and Eloise both caused major floods over the area in 1972 and 1975 respectively.
  • Rapid snow melt combined with heavy rainfall resulted in major floods in both January 1996 and April 2005.

More overviews of past events can be found on the Weather Events page.

What Types of Flooding are There?

Floods which occur on small streams and creeks when heavy rain falls in a short period of time are known as flash floods. They are the deadliest of all floods, and are the most difficult to forecast. Warning time can be very short. Flooding also occurs on our larger rivers and streams. A period of mild winter weather can cause ice on the river to break up, causing ice jam flooding.

What Does a Flood Watch Mean?

A Flood Watch means there is potential for flooding to occur, not that flooding is occurring. The watch is typically issued for several counties at a time, and ideally is issued 12 to 24 hours before flooding is expected. This way you will have enough time to prepare.

What You Should Do When a Flood Watch is Issued?

Go about your normal activities, but make periodic checks of NOAA Weather Radio, or television and radio stations for updates and possible flood warnings. Know which county you live in, and where you are in relation to streams, creeks or rivers, which can become killers in heavy rains.

If you live or work in an area which is prone to flooding, have a safe evacuation route to use if flooding occurs. Make sure everyone in your home or office knows where to go if flooding occurs. Have a battery operated radio, and several flashlights available and in working order. Take precautions to secure your property.

What Does a Flash Flood Warning Mean?

A Flash Flood Warning means rapid life-threatening flooding is occurring, or will soon begin. You need to take action immediately to protect your life and property if you are in the danger area.

What You Should Do When a Flash Flood Warning Is Issued?

Move to higher ground immediately and get out of the danger area. Never drive across bridges covered with water, or through areas where water covers the roadway. If your car stalls in a flooded or low lying area, abandon it immediately. Rapidly rising flood waters could easily sweep it away. Be especially careful at night, when it is harder to see flooded areas.

What Does a River Flood Warning Mean?

A River Flood Warning means that river levels will exceed flood stage on certain points along our larger rivers, like the Chemung, Susquehanna and Delaware rivers. River floods take longer to develop so they may not pose as much threat to life, but can take a much larger toll on property. River levels, forecast stages, etc can be found on the River & Lakes AHPS web site.

What You Should Do When a River Flood Warning is Issued?

If you live in a flood plain, be prepared to evacuate if ordered to do so. Make sure you have all necessary items that you would need In the event that you cannot return home for several days. Make arrangements to protect your property by moving your valuables to higher ground, or an upper level of your home.
 

Presentation: Flashing Flooding and River Flooding - PDF format.

 

The weather safety topics for the remainder of the week will be as follows:

  • Monday, kickoff of Severe Weather Awareness Week.
  • Tuesday, Severe Thunderstorms.
  • Wednesday, Severe Weather Preparedness and Safety.
  • Thursday, Tornadoes.
  • Friday, Flooding.

Use the blue tabs at the top of the page move through each day.

More information on Severe Weather Awareness Week and other upcoming preparedness events, please take a look at the National Weather Service Binghamton Preparedness web page.

You can also contact:

David Nicosia

Warning Coordination Meteorologist for NOAA's National Weather Service
Binghamton, NY 13290
Phone: 607-770-9531 x 223
Email: david.nicosia@noaa.gov
Severe Weather Awareness Logo containing NOAA, NWS, Building shot, NY State Logo and Skywarn logos.