Severe Weather 101

| March 25, 2021
severe weather with lightning against purple and black sky
severe weather with lightning against purple and black sky

It’s springtime in Alabama which ultimately means the weather is teetering somewhere between summer heat and the remaining low temps of winter. You never know what the next day might feel like. With the frequent changes in temperature comes the unavoidable risks of severe weather. As cold weather is ushered out by the summer sun, there are certain to be days of thunderstorms and tornadoes in the southeast. 

Growing up I was never one to enjoy stormy days. While some loved the sound of thunder rumbling through the sky, I would rather there be birds chirping and the sun shining. I was terrified of even the slightest increase in wind speed and always assumed the worst was on its way. I remember many spring nights our local weather station was turned on the television, mom had our weather radio nearby, and the interior hallway was prepared in case we had to take shelter. 

Thankfully, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve grown out of my irrational fear of bad weather. That’s not to say I don’t still get frightened, but at least I don’t always assume every time it rains my house might be blown over as I used to! However, growing up fearful of weather has caused me to now have great respect for what severe weather can do. Though I’ve never been in a situation where my home was destroyed by a tornado, I’ve had family members’ homes be torn to pieces. I’ve read stories of the devastation caused by damaging winds, and I’ve heard of how quickly life can be taken in the midst of a storm.

Just last week we had one of our first rounds of severe weather for the season. As always, I spend time leading up to the day watching the weather, listening to different opinions, and preparing for what might happen. I’ve realized over the years that there seems to be a “cool factor” that those who choose to not pay attention to the weather try to attain. Not everyone falls into that boat, but there are some.

Maybe it’s not that they are trying to “be cool” but rather that they have the idea that they are invincible. A possibility of tornados? No way it could touch me! I sure hope they are always right, but I’m going to continue taking the necessary precautions needed when storms are rolling in my direction. 

How to Prepare

The key to severe weather is to prepare long before the clouds start to form. Here are a few things you can do to be ready:

  • Buy a NOAA Weather Radio. These radios don’t run off of cellular networks, so if cell towers are knocked down you still have a reliable way to receive watches and warnings. 
  • Download a reliable weather app. Whether it be your local news station or a national weather service app, make sure you have a source of weather information on your cell phone. 
  • Create a plan. Where will your family go during a storm? Which room in your house is the safest? It needs to be an interior room on the lowest level that doesn’t have any windows. Typically the best rooms are bathrooms, closets, or basements. 
  • Keep certain safety items in your safe room. If a storm hits you don’t want to be running around your house looking for all that you need to stay safe. It’s important to have those things prepared beforehand and already in the space that you will need them. Some things to include are helmets for the entire family to protect you from debris or things falling on you, a flashlight and hard sole shoes in case you have to make your way through the rubble after the storm passes, and a whistle or an air horn.  Many times first responders have a hard time finding those buried under fallen homes after a tornado. A whistle or air horn can help you help them find you in the chance that you’ve been injured and can’t move.
  • Charge your electronics. In case the power goes out, it’s smart to charge your cell phone and other electronics so that you don’t have to go without during the storm. 

Little Bit of Truth 

As my favorite meteorologist, James Spann, says, even on some of the most active weather days, the likelihood of a tornado coming down your street out of all of the places that it could go to are slim. Tornados are small, states are big. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t prepare, but that does mean that you can take a deep breath and know that impending severe weather does not mean that you are guaranteed to face a tornado yourself. 

Thankfully, we can trust in the sovereignty of God and trust in his perfect timing and authority. He is the creator and sustainer of all things. He is the one that can calm the storm, and there is great peace found in that truth. 

If you’re fearful of bad weather, you’re not alone. No matter what others might say, it is good and wise to prepare for the worst. There are ways to do that without allowing fear to take you over. Be smart, take the necessary precautions, and trust in God. Your fellow weather fanatic will be right there with you! 

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