|The National Weather Service has issued a Severe Thunderstorm Watch and Wind Advisory for Kingsport and many surrounding areas in effect until midnight tonight, March 1, 2017. The Kingsport Police Department has received additional information from local news network meteorologists that the weather front will most likely reach this area by approximately 1:00 PM today and pass through the area by around 5:00 PM.
A Wind Advisory means that winds of 26 to 39 miles per hour and/or gusts of 40 to 57 miles per hour are expected or occurring. Winds this strong can make driving difficult…especially for high profile vehicles. These winds may also down trees or tree limbs, as well as power lines. Loose outdoor objects should be secured.
Kingsport Central Dispatch has activated their Emergency Communications Center (E.O.C.) and is closely monitoring the weather. If time allows, additional updates may possibly be disseminated; however, weather systems such as these often develop too quickly to allow for this before it is too late to react.
Area citizens are encouraged to err on the side of caution, not be out and about, and have a plan to seek immediate shelter during the aforementioned time frames. Citizens are also urged to closely monitor a television, radio, smart phone, or other electronic device capable of receiving severe weather alerts from the Emergency Notification System.
Following are some National Weather Service severe weather safety tips courtesy of our friends at the Kingsport Fire Department:
What You Can do Before Severe Weather Strikes
1. Develop a disaster plan for you and your family at home, work, school, and when outdoors. The American Red Cross offers planning tips and information on a putting together a disaster supplies kit at: http://www.redcross.org
2. Identify a safe place to take shelter. Information on how to build a Safe Room in your home or school is available from the Federal Emergency Management Agency at: http://www.fema.gov/hazard/tornado/to_saferoom.shtm
3. Know the county/parish in which you live or visit – and in what part of that county you are located. The National Weather Service issues severe weather warnings on a county/parish basis, or for a portion of a county/parish.
4. Keep a highway map nearby to follow storm movement from weather bulletins.
5. Have a NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards receiver unit with a warning alarm tone and battery back-up to receive warning bulletins.
6. National Weather Service (NWS) watches and warnings are also available on the Internet. Select your local NWS office at: http://www.weather.gov/organization.php …or go to the to the NWS Home Page at http://www.nws.noaa.gov
7. Listen to commercial radio or television/cable TV for weather information.
8. Check the weather forecast before leaving for extended periods outdoors. Watch for signs of approaching storms.
9. If severe weather threatens, check on people who are elderly, very young, or physically or mentally disabled. Don’t forget about pets and farm animals.
Severe Thunderstorm Straight-line Winds:
1. Don’t underestimate the power of strong thunderstorm winds known as straight-line winds – they can reach speeds of 100 to 150 mph. Hurricane-force winds start at 74 mph. Wisconsin does experience these kinds of winds!
2. If a severe thunderstorm warning contains hurricane-force wind speeds seek shelter immediately (as you would for a tornado situation).
3. Stay away from windows and go to the basement or interior room/hallway. Do not use electrical appliances.
4. Be aware that tall trees near a building can be uprooted by straight-line winds – that tree can come crashing through the roof of a home and crush a person to death.
5. Powerful straight-line winds can overturn a vehicle or even make a person air-borne when they get up over 100 mph!
6. One type of a straight-line wind event is a downburst, which is a small area of rapidly descending rain-cooled air and rain beneath a thunderstorm. A downburst can cause damage equivalent to a strong tornado! Web site: http://www.spc.noaa.gov/misc/AbtDerechos/derechofacts.htm (information on strong straight-line wind events)
1. Although it is rare, people have been killed by large hail stones after sustaining head injuries. Additionally, several people are injured by large hail stones each year in the U.S.
2. Some thunderstorms can produce large hail stones that can reach the size of baseballs, softballs, or even as big as computer compact discs (CD) or DVDs! These large hail stones can fall at speeds over 100 mph! – that’s why they are dangerous! The largest hail stone in Wisconsin was over 7 inches in diameter!
3. If a severe storm is producing large hail stones, seek a sturdy shelter and stay away from windows that can easily be smashed.
4. If you are in your vehicle before the hail storm starts, get out of it and go to a sturdy shelter. Glass windows in vehicles can easily be smashed by the hail stones. If you can’t get out of your vehicle, then come to a stop and cover your head with your arms and hands.
Lightning Safety Tips: 1. Postpone outdoor activities if thunderstorms are imminent. Lightning can travel 5-10 miles away from the thunderstorm and strike the ground with blue sky overhead. The storm doesn’t have to be overhead in order for you to be struck.
2. Move to a sturdy shelter or vehicle. Do not take shelter in a small shed, under isolated trees, or in a convertible-top vehicle. Stay away from tall objects such as trees or towers or poles.
3. If in your vehicle when lightning strikes – don’t touch a metal surface. You are safer in a vehicle than being outdoors.
4. Remember that utility lines or pipes can carry the electrical current underground or through a building. Avoid electrical appliances, and use telephones or computers only in an emergency.
5. If you feel your hair standing on end – get down into a baseball catcher’s position and plug your ears with your fingertips so if lightning does hit it will not blow your ear drums out. Do not lie flat!
6. 30/30 rule – if the time between lighting and thunder is 30 seconds or less, go to a safe shelter. Stay there until 30 minutes after the last rumble of thunder. Web site: http://www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov
Flash Flood/Flood Safety Tips:
1. Nearly half of all fatalities in a flash flood involve a person driving a vehicle. Do not drive into a flooded area – Turn Around Don’t Drown! It takes only 2 feet of water to float away most cars. It’s amazing how powerful we feel when we get behind the wheel – don’t do it!
2. It takes only 6 inches of fast-moving water to sweep a person off their feet – don’t walk through a flooded area!
3. If you are camping in a river valley, move to higher ground if thunderstorms with heavy rains are in the area. Do not attempt to drive away.
4. Don’t operate electrical tools in flooded areas.
5. Most flash flood deaths occur in the middle of the night when it is more difficult to see rising water levels judge the depth of water covering road surfaces. Web sites: http://www.weather.gov/os/brochures.shtml (to find the “Flash Floods and Floods…The Awesome Power” brochure) http://www.srh.noaa.gov/srh/tadd/ (for information on Turn Around Don’t Drown – TADD)