Severe weather safety stressed

The State of Ohio is marking March 17-23 as Severe Weather Awareness Week. State leaders are encouraging residents to be prepared for and stay safe during severe weather.

“Spring Severe Weather Awareness Week provides the opportunity for Ohioans to prepare their homes, schools, businesses and organizations for the spring and summer months of potential severe weather and conditions associated with it, such as thunder, lightning storms, flooding/flash flooding from heavy rains, tornadoes, and extreme heat,” said a resolution from Governor Mike DeWine.

Lightning is one of the leading causes of injury and death from weather-related hazards. Although most lightning victims survive, people struck by lightning often report a variety of long-term, debilitating symptoms.

Thunderstorms are dangerous weather systems that include lightning and can also produce power winds of more than 50 mph, create hail, and can cause flash flooding and tornadoes.

Last year, in 2018, 20 people in a total of 10 states died from lightning strikes. All of the lightning-strike incidents happened while the individuals were outside. Sixteen were male; four female. The youngest was a 7-year-old boy who was playing under a tree. None of the deaths occurred in Ohio.

The best way to protect yourself from lightning is to avoid the threat. You simply do not want to be caught outside during a storm.

Tornadoes are another threat that can come with thunderstorms.

Ohio’s peak tornado season is generally April through July, but tornadoes can and have occurred in every month of the year. In fact this year, an EF1 tornado touched down in Trumbull County on Jan. 8, and an EF0 tornado touched down in Clark County. No injuries were reported from these events.

Residents are encouraged to ensure that everyone knows the signs of a tornado, including a rotating, funnel-shaped cloud, an approaching cloud of debris, or a loud roar – similar to a freight train. Pay attention to the weather and to weather reports. Meteorologists can predict or forecast when conditions might be right for a tornado to develop.

A statewide tornado drill will be held Wednesday at 9:50 a.m.

Floods are among the most frequent and costly natural disasters. Flooding can occur from the result of several days of sustained rain, thawing snow, coastal storms, or overflows of dams or other water systems. Floods can develop slowly or quickly – Flash floods can come with little or no warning.

Flood waters can be extremely dangerous. Just six inches of moving water can knock an adult down, and one foot of moving water can sweep away small vehicles. Two feet of rushing water can carry away most other vehicles, including SUVs and pickup trucks.

Officials warn Ohioans to never walk or drive through flooded roadways. You cannot tell the depth of the water or the condition of the ground underneath.

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