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Would You Waste a Watch or Warning?

On April 10, two severe weather incidents occurred, and each carries a lesson.  How would you react?

The National Weather Service (NWS) has an outstanding record protecting property and saving lives by issuing timely severe weather watches and warnings.  NWS watches are generally issued one or more hours before severe weather impacts your area. Warnings, on the other hand, are more immediate: you are in imminent danger. NWS averages a 13-minute lead time on Tornado Warnings.  Getting these alerts the instant they are issued gives you valuable time to protect your property and save lives.

Do you have a NOAA Weather radio that will allow you to use every minute to your best advantage?  Consider how a weather radio such as a WR120 would have helped you on April 10.

Tornado Watch #87 had been issued for areas including Mobile, AL and Pensacola, FL just after midnight, warning of the potential for severe storms with large hail: A few hours later, this started pelting Mobile, Pensacola and Orange Beach,

Photo: NWS-Tallahassee

 
Cars ended up looking like this:

Photo: Sam Sheffield via WBRC-TV

 
Of course, not every car can be parked in a garage or underneath a carport, so such damage may be unavoidable.  But when a Severe Thunderstorm Watch or Tornado Watch is issued, use it as a “heads up” to do what you can to protect your car, tie-down your lawn furniture, secure loose items, and inform everyone in your family that severe weather might happen in the next several hours.

Far more disturbing is what occurred inside Severe Thunderstorm Watch #86, which highlighted the possibility of nocturnal tornadoes:

Photo: NWS-Lake Charles/St. Landry Parish EMA

 
The resident of this mobile home in St. Landry Parish, LA died when an EF-3 tornado struck around 2am.  We don’t know if he knew about the Severe Thunderstorm Watch issued four hours earlier, or the Tornado Warning issued 24 minutes before this twister touched down.  The wreckage of the home was found 300 yards away.

When a severe weather watch or warning is issued, use it. Heed the information to protect yourself, your family, and your property.  Most importantly, have a device that automatically alerts you, even when you’re sleeping: a NOAA Weather Radio.  There is no faster or more reliable way to get official bulletins from your local National Weather Service office.  With an 80-decibel alert tone, your Midland WR-120 radio will make sure you are informed and aware of events like these.  For your own safety, never waste a watch or a warning.