April 10th through April 16th is
Severe Storms Awareness Week, Marylanders!
While Maryland may not get as many named tropical storms as states further south, we get our share - and plenty of smaller and medium sized storms that do their own damage along the way.
Our state's varied geographies and many waterways mean that in addition to the usual winds, lightning, and rainfall, other hazards like flooding, tornadoes, and downed power lines are also all too common. In fact, from coastal flooding on the Eastern Shore to flash floods in Western Maryland rivers,
flooding is the top weather-related hazard in Maryland, and these storms love to cause it.
Each day this week, join us as we explore a different aspect of severe storms - what they mean, how they work, and what you can do to be ready when they happen:
Monday (4/10) | Tuesday (4/11) | Wednesday (4/12)
Thursday (4/13) | Friday (4/14)
Monday (4/10) - Flooding
Flooding is one of the most dangerous and common storm hazards in Maryland.
Turn Around; Don't Drown
Most flood deaths come from people attempting to drive over flooded roadways. It doesn't take a lot of water for your vehicle's tires to lose their grip on the road, and once you're floating, rushing flood waters can carry you very far, very unsafely, very fast.
No Swimming Allowed
Another large segment of flood deaths are from those folks who get caught up in flood waters, either from slipping and falling, or from attempting to walk or swim across them. Needless to say, don't try this! Not only will the currents be strong and unpredictable, flood waters are often contaminated with sewage or debris.
Be Extra Careful, Gentlemen
67% of flood fatalities in recent years have been male. No matter your gender, take precautions! But perhaps a few more for the men out there.
- Never enter an area of road that is covered by water if that water is too deep to see the pavement. (And maybe not even then. Remember: Turn around; don't drown!)
- Especially avoid night driving if at all possible. Limited visibility, unpredictable waters, and not being able to tell how deep water is in the dark do not mix.
- There is no such thing as a "flood-proof" area. Even small waterways or areas on high ground can, in some circumstances, flood and cause damage...so take extra caution and be on the lookout for flood warnings if it's storming, no matter where you are.
Tuesday (4/11) - Damaging Winds
Wind can be an overlooked element of severe storms, but don't underestimate it!
The Damage Champion
The majority of tree and structure damage (and power outages) that happen during thunderstorms are actually caused by the storm's damaging winds, not the rain, thunder, or lightning.
Watch Out for Warnings
A Severe Thunderstorm Warning means that damaging winds will occur somewhere within the warning area (or even the whole area) within the next 60 minutes. These microbursts are like "punches" of wind. Coming from the most intense part of the storm, they can reach speeds up to 120 mph!
If you're in an area where a Severe Thunderstorm Warning has been issues, get to a sturdy shelter as soon as possible, and stay away from windows. When wind fights glass, it's safest not to be around to see which one wins.
Learn more about damaging winds and how to stay safe
in this helpful guide
from our friends at the National Weather Service.
Wednesday (4/12) - Tornadoes
Join folks all across Maryland in one giant tornado drill,
the Great Maryland Twister Test,
*NOTE: An Emergency Alert message will be sent at 10:00AM for the tornado drill.
No Alley Needed
Think tornadoes only happen in Oklahoma and Kansas? Think again! Maryland's had nearly 100 in the last ten years, and their frequency is increasing.
From Inconvenient to Catastrophic
Tornadoes are each unique, and vary in strength. Some are "only" powerful enough to knock down trees, shut off power, and pull the shingles from your house's roof. Others are much stronger, and leave a swath of widespread devastation in their wake.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Be sure to participate in the statewide tornado drill on Wednesday, April 12th, at 10:00AM to help make sure you and your family are ready! Before the drill, talk with your family about making a tornado plan - you can find
an easy guide from our friends at Ready.gov.
- When a Tornado Warning is issued, get to the lowest floor of your current building, quickly! Find a small interior room or hallway with no windows, and stay there. Stay away from windows!
- Mobile homes are extremely vulnerable to tornadoes! If you live in one, be sure to make an emergency plan, and know beforehand where you'll go for shelter if a Tornado Warning is issued.
Thursday (4/13) - Hail
Tiny (or not-so-tiny) chunks of ice falling from the sky! Not our idea of a good time.
A Stormy Icemaker
Hail consists of balls of ice that form in the extreme turbulence of strong thunderstorms. Even in otherwise warm weather, the special conditions inside a severe storm can generate significant amounts of hail.
Great Balls of Ice
As rain inside of storm clouds freezes, melts, and re-freezes during the storm's circulation, more and more layers of ice are added to the balls of ice before they become heavy enough to fall. This can allow the ice to grow a lot - even to the size of softballs!
A Sign to Take Shelter
Because of all the special conditions needed to make it, hail only forms in very strong, very dangerous storms. The larger the hail, the more dangerous the storm...so if you see hail start to fall, get indoors quickly!
Friday (4/14) - Lightning
When thunder roars, head indoors!
Over 98% of lightning casualties are from people outdoors in a storm. Get inside as soon as you hear thunder in the distance, and your chances of staying safe grow dramatically.
It Has the Range
Did you know that lightning fatalities most frequently come from places that are actually outside of the areas where it's raining? Lightning can strike over 10 miles from a storm's rain area! If you can hear the thunder, you're close enough to be struck. Don't take chances!
more about thunder and lightning
over at MdReady - and thanks for being a part of Severe Storms Awareness Week 2023.
Stay storm-safe, and we'll see you next year!