“March marked the beginning of Middle Tennessee's severe weather season when damaging storms are the most common,” Statom told the students. He suggests steps you need to take to stay safe when the storms of spring strike.
When the skies darken, streaks of lightning cut the sky, rumbles of thunder get louder and louder, and the wind starts to pick up, a thunderstorm is quickly approaching.
When you hear a thumping sound as hail begins to pound the roof, and the windows rattle from the force of the wind, it isn't a gentle spring thundershower; it a severe thunderstorm.
If the National Weather Service issues a severe thunderstorm warning for your area, here's what you need to do:
First, get into a sturdy building and go to the lowest floor. Find an interior room away from windows. Severe storms are capable of producing hail and high winds, both of which can break windows. Also, winds can carry debris and blow down trees that can crash into the windows causing them to shatter.
Get away from electrical appliances, including anything that is plugged into the wall. If your house or somewhere nearby is struck by lightning, that energy can be brought into your house through the wiring.
Also, water is an excellent conductor of electricity, and people have been shocked during storms. So don't take a shower or bath or hand-wash dishes when lighting is near.
If you're caught outside, and can't find sturdy shelter, go to a car. Get inside, keep the windows up and avoid touching any metal. This way, if the car is struck, the electrical energy will go through the body of the car to get into the ground and not through you.
If there's no car near, find a low spot, away from trees, fences, and poles. Lightning likes to take the shortest path to the ground, and it finds that path often by hitting the tallest thing around. If you feel your skin tingle or your hair stand on end, squat low to the ground on the balls of your feet. Place your hands over your ears and put your head between your knees. Make yourself the smallest target possible and minimize your contact with the ground.
Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that if you can hear thunder you are close enough to a storm to be struck by lightning. It is then you want to make sure you're in a safe place. Don't wait until the last minute to get out of the weather.
The National Weather Service says there are an average of 100,000 thunderstorms in the U.S. every year that produce 25 million cloud-to-ground lighting strikes.
The Meteorologist suggested ways to stay safe in the event of one of Mother Nature's most destructive forces, the tornado.
Meteorologists call them tornado days, days in which the blackened sky seemingly loses control, producing violent storms that spawn tornadoes and leaving people glued to their televisions waiting for the latest watches and warnings.
That's the way it was just a few months ago on November 15th, 2005. A record 19 twisters touched down in the Middle Tennessee area.
The most memorable tornado day for many is April 16, 1998, when an F-3 blasted downtown Nashville. Also, that day, the strongest tornado to ever hit anywhere in Tennessee blew through Lawrence County with winds of at least 260 miles per hour.
With at least one or two tornado days likely in 2006, it's good to be prepared. When a tornado has been sighted or indicated by radar, a warning is issued for your community.
Basements are the best place to be in that situation. Tornadoes have to stay above ground so below ground is where you ideally want to go. Once there, get on the opposite side of the basement, away from windows and garage doors. Get down and cover your head. If you have something like a closet under the stairs, you can go there. Also, if you have a sturdy table or workbench in your basement, get under it for extra protection.
If you don't have a basement, go to the lowest floor of your house. Don't go up, the winds in a tornado increase with height. Find a small room, such as a closet or a bathroom that's centrally located in the house. The general rule of thumb is that you want to put as many walls between you and the tornado as possible. In the closet, get down and cover your head, you can use clothes, pillows and blankets to cover you as protection.
The bathroom is also a good place. The pipes in the walls add strength to the room and you can use the bathtub for protection. If you lay down and cover your head, the sides of the bathtub can block flying debris while the rest flies above you.
If you live in a mobile home, leave it and seek sturdy shelter. The same applies if you are in a car. If there's no sturdy shelter nearby, find any kind of low spot, like a ditch, lay down and cover your head.
If you're building a new home and you're not planning on having a basement, consider a tornado safe room. These come as kits or check with your contractor about that.
Since the 1998 tornado in Nashville, the National Weather Service has recorded 114 more twisters and 15 tornado deaths in Middle Tennessee.