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Prepare yourself to act when weather strikes

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Editorial: May 6, 2011

The vicious spring weather season has brought countless weather watches and warnings. Often in April, Hardin County found itself simultaneously on the alert for severe thunderstorms, possible tornadoes and flooding.

Thanks to advances in radar detection technology, the National Weather Service is able to provide much more lead time when issuing alerts. During some storms this spring, warnings have been issued before the first raindrops reached the county.

That’s a great comfort. It also sometimes causes us to disregard the urgency included in the warning.

With the help of Doppler’s three-dimensional imaging, forecast experts can see dangers developing before funnel clouds are apparent to spotters on the ground. That leads to some of the “radar-indicated warnings” often illustrated on our televisions as hook echoes.

That increases the number and frequency of warnings compared to years past. And again while the intent is providing more time to seek shelter, it also has resulted in dulling our sensitivity to NWS alarms.
The time to study and understand the impact of various alerts is not when the weather is scary. The time to understand, the time to establish a family safety plan and the time to collect emergency items is now.

As a reminder, here are explanations regarding the most frequent alerts provided by The Weather Channel. Refresh your memory and share it with someone else. We recommend that you clip and save the information for future reference.

n Severe Thunderstorm Watch: Conditions are conducive to the development of severe thunderstorms in and close to the watch area.

n Severe Thunderstorm Warning: A severe thunderstorm has been observed by spotters or indicated on radar and is occurring or imminent in the warning area.

n Tornado Watch: Conditions are conducive to the development of tornadoes in and close to the watch area.

n Tornado Warning: A tornado has been sighted by spotters or indicated on radar and is occurring or imminent in the warning area.
In recent weeks, we have been besieged by storms. Damage to the St. Louis airport, devastation in Tuscaloosa, Ala., and a record-breaking outbreak across the South are chilling reminders of our vulnerability in the face of nature’s power.

Don’t wait for another reminder to drop from the sky. Be weather aware.