by Lawrence Estep
4/21/98 - You CAN teach a tornado new tricks
On Thursday evening April 16th, 1998, shortly before rush hour, residents of Nashville, TN were awakened to a cruel reality by mother nature...tornadoes can...AND DO...touch down ANYWHERE, ANYTIME! The common myth that "funnels don't touch down in urban areas" was "blown away" in an instant.
Two tornadoes ripped through Davidson County, and
other areas of the Tennessee and Ohio Valley regions,
causing over $100 million in damages to the city of
Nashville alone. Windows were blown from
skyscrapers, cranes were demolished at a stadium
construction site, and hundreds of people narrowly
escaped serious injury, and death. Things were bad,
but they could have been much, much worse.
Unfortunately, several people were not as lucky,
including two residents of Barren and Metcalfe
counties in Kentucky, who were killed by late night
twisters from the same storm system.
So what can you do to prepare? Where can you go?
Let's try to answer some of those questions:
WHAT TO DO NOW
- Buy a NOAA weather alert radio, available at most
electronics stores for under $50. These radios allow
you to be alerted of impending severe weather, and
are an invaluable resource. Every home should have
one, and they are just as important as smoke
detectors in my opinion. A new generation of radios uing SAME (Specific Area Message Encoding) are now available that allow you to configure your radio to only sound for specific types of alerts for the counties that you define.
- Prepare a "Storm Survival Kit"-transistor radio,
canned foods and can opener, bottled water, blanket
and pillow, and list of emergency numbers. Put this
emergency kit in your safe shelter area.
WHEN A WATCH IS ISSUED
- Stay tuned to local media or NOAA Weather
- Be prepared to take action. Review tornado
preparedness plans. Gather loose objects from
outside. Know the whereabouts of children, family
members, and pets.
- Watch the sky. If threatening weather is
observed, DON'T WAIT FOR A WARNING! Take
WHEN A WARNING IS ISSUED
- If outdoors with no immediate shelter:
Go to a ditch or culvert. Kneel down and cover your
head until the storm has passed. Be alert for
possible flash flooding in low-lying areas.
- If indoors in a secure structure:
Go to an interior room on the lowest floor, away from
windows. Preferrably under a piece of sturdy
furniture. A basement is ideal. Do not go to a
particular corner of the basement, instead, take
cover under a sturdy piece of furniture or the
stairway. If no interior room is available, go to a
bathroom or closet. Cover your body with a mattress
or pillows. A bathtub is a good choice if no
alternative is available.
- If in a mobile home:
Do not stay in a mobile home! Even those that
are tied down may not withstand the force of a
tornado. If time, go to a storm shelter in your
mobile home park, or take shelter in a ditch.
- If in an automobile:
Do not try to outrun a tornado! Do not stay in
your vehicle. A car or truck are not a safe place to
be during a tornado.
- If in a public place or shopping mall:
Look for marked shelter areas. If no marked areas
are available, try to take shelter in a bathroom or
interior room. Do not stay in a large open indoor
structure such as a department store.
Knowing some of these basic tips may very well save
your life, or the life of someone that you know.
Just remember...weather is unpredictable, and there
are no certainties during severe weather. Common
sense is the best rule. If a watch or warning is
issued, and you do not see damaging storms or
tornadoes, count yourself lucky! Don't ignore the
call to action. Next time there might not be any
warning until it is too late.
Local media links:
News 2 WKRN Home Page
NewsChannel 5 Home Page
© 1999 Larry Estep/Weatherman's World