Severe Weather Preparedness Week: Know Your Risk

By: Angela Fritz , 6:13 PM GMT on March 04, 2013

It's that time of year again. The air is getting warmer, the flowers are starting to poke their heads out of the ground (though for some people that began back in January), and severe storms are popping up on the radar more often. As warm, moist air begins to surge north, the atmosphere becomes more ripe for tornadoes, hail, and strong, damaging winds.

Are you prepared?

This week is National Severe Weather Preparedness Week here in the United States. The best way to start preparing is to know your risk.

According to the Tornado History Project, 3,651 tornadoes have touched down in the month of March since 1950. Though tornadoes can form anywhere and at any time, the greatest concentration of March tornadoes is in the Southeast, in an area many meteorologists have coined "Dixie Alley." However, every state in the U.S. has experienced tornadoes and severe weather. 46 states reported tornadoes in 2012, and property and crop damage from tornadoes in 2012 is estimated at $1.6 billion. Despite advance warning, there were more than 450 weather-related fatalities in 2012, and nearly 2,600 injuries.

Know the Difference

A watch lets you know that weather conditions are favorable for a hazard to occur. It literally means “be on guard!” During a weather watch, gather awareness of the specific threat and prepare for action — monitor the weather to find out if severe weather conditions have deteriorated and prepare to take shelter

A warning requires immediate action. This means a weather hazard is imminent — it is either occurring (a tornado has been spotted, for example) — or it is about to occur. Find safe shelter immediately.

Tomorrow we make a plan! Stay safe!


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Atmospheric Scientist here at Weather Underground, with serious nerd love for tropical cyclones and climate change. Twitter: @WunderAngela

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