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Thunderstorms are a common occurrence in Georgia, especially during the spring and summer months. The best thing to do is to have a plan of action in place before threatening weather develops. If severe weather is imminent, and you are inside, move to a shelter such as a basement or an interior room on the lowest floor of the building.
With the start of a Northeastern Derecho storm front I thought it would be a good time to discuss how to prepare for a severe thunderstorm and derecho windstorms.
Thunderstorms affect relatively small areas when compared with hurricanes and winter storms, but can have an expansive area if it forms a Derecho windstorm.
Discuss severe thunderstorms and other severe storms with your family and store necessary provision in a family go bag, also known as a Bug Out Bag (BOB), in case you have to vacate your home. If you see or hear a thunderstorm coming, go inside a sturdy building or car. Sturdy buildings are the safest place to be. If you can’t get inside, or if you feel your hair stand on end, which means lightning is about to strike, hurry to a low, open space immediately. Stay away from tall things like trees, towers, fences, telephone lines, or power lines. They attract lightning.
Stay away from metal things that lightning may strike, such as umbrellas, baseball bats, fishing rods, camping equipment, and bicycles. Lightning is attracted to metal and poles or rods.
If you are boating or swimming, get to land immediately. Stay away from rivers, lakes, and other bodies of water and get off the beach. Turn off the air conditioner and television, and stay off the phone until the storm is over. Lightning can cause electric appliances, including televisions and telephones, to become dangerous during a thunderstorm. The use of candles should be kept to a minimum and only be lit in rooms that are occupied by an adult.  Do not light candles in bedrooms or in areas exposed to high traffic or left unattended. While severe thunderstorms are most common in the spring and summer, they can occur any time of year in southeast Texas. Hail is formed as strong rising currents of air within a storm (updrafts) carry water droplets to a height where freezing occurs. October 22, 2008 Showers and thunderstorms developed along and ahead of a strong cold front and produced golf ball size hail (up to 1.75 inches) in Houston (Harris County) near the intersection of Beltway 8 North and the Hardy Toll Road.
May 4, 2006 A severe thunderstorm developed in the afternoon and produced large hail (up to 3.00 inches - the size of tea cups) in the Champions Forest Subdivision near Houston Hooks Airport.
May 8, 2005 Severe thunderstorms with strong damaging winds and large hail moved across the southern half of southeast Texas with damage observed from the El Campo and Wharton area (trees and power lines down, roof damage and a hanger with an airplane inside destroyed) eastward to the coast. December 23, 2002 The combination of abundant low level moisture, a strong upper level storm system and a warm front helped to produce nearly fifty severe weather events across Southeast Texas including tornadoes in Colorado, Burleson, Washington, Brazos, Grimes, Madison, Montgomery and San Jacinto counties. May 1-2, 2000 A storm system produced widespread severe thunderstorms over the southern half of Southeast Texas during the overnight hours of the 1st and the early morning hours of the 2nd. On the 3rd December 2008, very lightning active storms affected the northern parts of the NSW coast and Tablelands. The third storm to pass over the Lismore region late in the afternoon produced a barrage of spectacular CGs. An outbreak of storms during the morning of the October 14 2008 set the scene for an explosive afternoon over the North West Slopes and Plains. Severe hailstorms affected several areas of northern NSW and southeastern Queensland on the 20th September 2008. The storm at this time produced the largest hailstones up to 3cm in diameter, very heavy rainfall and a few microbursts. The day started off with fairly weak and dryish looking convection along the Richmond Range before a decent thunderstorm organised southwest of Grafton. Severe thunderstorms affected the inland parts of New South wales on the 26th November 2005. After an active day with tornadoes in Kansas, the 23rd May 2007 saw storms erupting in the Texas Panhandle including the threat of supercells and strong tornadoes. The 17th December 2005 saw widespread supercells develop across eastern and north eastern NSW. Meanwhile, a violent high precipitation supercell produced extreme straight line winds and very large hailstones on the north coast.
Green Cross Australia is a not for profit organisation who deliver digital projects that help people in practical ways adapt to our changing climate, embrace sustainable living and build resilient communities. These events can occur any time of the year, but peak in July when downbursts from pulse thunderstorms are common. This will help ensure you receive life-saving weather information even if one method fails. Knowing what to do and where to going in a severe thunderstorm can greatly reduce your chances of injury or death.
Every thunderstorm produces lightning, which kills more people each year than tornadoes.Heavy rain from thunderstorms can lead to flash flooding. This should be a place where there are no windows, skylights or glass doors, which could be broken by strong winds or hail, causing damage or injury.
Make yourself the smallest possible target for lightning and minimizing contact with the ground.

Crouch down on the balls of your feet, place your hands on your knees and lower your head. Make yourself the smallest target possible and minimize contact with the ground.
Show them how to place their hands on their knees and lower their head, crouching on the balls of their feet. Never stand underneath a single large tree out in the open, because lightning usually strikes the highest point in an area. They use standard AA or AAA batteries which can easily be found within your home or office. The ice particles cycle upward and downward through the hail growth part of the storm several times, growing in size layer by layer. April 2, 2013 A severe thunderstorm produced baseball to softball sized hail (up to 4.50 inches) in Hitchcock (Galveston County). Further to the east (Brazoria County), strong winds downed trees and blew roofs off mobile homes in Rosharon, Danbury and Liverpool. An F1 tornado struck Katy injuring one person, flipping over two office trailers and damaging several homes. Widespread wind damage impacted Harris, Fort Bend, Wharton, Brazoria and Galveston counties. Usually covers a large area (such as all or a portion of southeast Texas) and lasts for 6 to 8 hours. Usually covers a small area (part of a county to a few counties) and has a short duration of 30 minutes to an hour.
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNINGS are issued on a county by county basis with the names of major cities highlighted in the warnings. Some receivers are specially built to alarm any time a severe weather Watch or Warning is issued by the National Weather Service. The most appropriate place is usually an interior room on the lowest floor of your home and away from windows.
These storms produced very heavy rainfall and hail in some areas as well as high energy lightning bolts.
The first of these severe storms developed near Coonabarabran and proceeded to beyond Manilla before it weakened. With strong heating and instability, storms developed during the afternoon and a severe warning issued.
The storm tracked fairly slowly northwards over several hours cycling into the severe category several times, before dissipating near Casino. Widespread thunderstorms remained mostly high based and made for microburst conditions and wind damage across the region. What amalgamated were training supercells - one supercell followed by another traversing over the same region.
From a better perspective at Prospect, the circular base structure indicated the storm attempted to organise for at least 40 to 50 minutes over the western suburbs. The storms dumped large hailstones in the region near Gloucester and Taree whilst areas further north largely missed out on much of the activity due to drier intruding. Based on data from 1950-2010, 18 fatalities and 325 injuries were caused by damaging wind across north and central Georgia. A Severe Thunderstorm Watch means conditions are favorable for severe thunderstorms to develop, but there is not an imminent threat. NOAA Weather Radio, televisions, radios, cell phone alerts and sirens are all different ways to receive watches and warnings and each has its own benefits. Remember, even straight line winds from a severe thunderstorm can cause damage equal in magnitude to a tornado.
Of the estimated 100,000 thunderstorms that occur each year in the United States, only about 10 percent are classified as severe. Contact your local emergency management office, local National Weather Service office, or American Red Cross chapter for more information regarding your area’s risk. Lightning current often enters a victim through the ground rather than by a direct overhead strike. Once they become too heavy to be supported by the storm's updraft or are carried outside the updraft, they fall to the ground as hail. If you experience or expect hail, get inside a sturdy structure and stay away from windows. The central and western parts of the town received extreme damage to vehicles and home roofs and windows.
Locations from Houston to the beaches felt the brunt of this event in the evening when a squall line moved rapidly eastward across Harris county and toward the coast and produced 60 to 80 mph winds. Pasadena was also struck by an F1 tornado which damaged a church and two schools, several homes in a neighborhood, and tore the walls off of a strip shopping center. The worst damage occured at Clover Field in Pearland where several planes were overturned and two small airplane hangers were destroyed. Indicates that conditions are favorable for severe thunderstorms that may produce large hail, damaging winds, or possibly tornadoes. A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING means that a severe thunderstorm has been detected by radar, or reports of severe weather have been received by the National Weather Service in the area covered by the warning.

If you know severe weather is approaching or a SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING is issued, seek shelter immediately!! It produced large hailstones to eat least the size of golf balls along its path with some severe downburst winds in the form of wet microbursts.The structure, behaviour and longetivity of this storm indicated it likely was a supercell.
One storm in particular was able to sustain severity for longer periods despite the meager wind shear. The activity merged into a lightning active system during the night hours with periods of very intense lightning bolt activity. Some very large hailstones were reported to the size of base balls or larger as well as some high precipitation totals - up to 11 inches on the old scale (275mm). The result was strong downburst winds achieving severe criteria, large hailstones probable about 2cm in diameter and extremely heavy rainfall. Typically, a severe thunderstorm lasts about 30 minutes and occurs in the afternoon and evening hours. Similar to damaging wind events, hail can occur in any month across north and central Georgia, however, hail events peak in May. A Severe Thunderstorm Warning means a severe thunderstorm has been detected and an imminent threat to life and property has developed. Assume a crouched position on the ground with only the balls of your feet touching the ground, place your hands on your knees, and lower your head. Use a NOAA Weather Radio with a tone-alert feature to keep you aware of watches and warnings while you are indoors.
Severe storms can occur any time of day in southeast Texas, but are most common in the afternoon and evening hours. There was also significant damage to the Midway Church, a fire station, and in two trailer parks. Near the coast in Galveston County, large hail (up to golf ball size) fell in Texas City, and strong winds downed large trees and damaged property from League City to Dickinson to Galveston Island.
At Scholes Field in Galveston, several small planes were also overturned and the NOAA P-3 research aircraft was damaged. The warnings are broadcast over NOAA Weather Radio and are usually scrolled on local television stations. Being in a sturdy building on the lowest floor and away from windows is the only safe place in a severe thunderstorm!! Although predominantly wind and hail damage occurred along its path, the atmosphere was conducive to some very heavy falls of rain.
Hailstones to the size of golf balls were reported across the region causing damage to cars. As it entered the western Sydney region near Penrith, the storm made a left move possibly tracking along an existing boundary. This storm was the left mover from a split pair and made a direct path as it rapidly approached Lismore. However, the steel frame of a hard-topped vehicle provides increased protection if you are not touching metal. Each year people are killed by nearby lightning strikes while in or on the water or on the beach. Hail sizes are usually given as references to everyday objects to make it easier to estimate hail size. On the Island, there was building damage along the Port of Galveston, vehicles were blown off the road and trees were downed.
A massive hailstorm with baseball-sized hail struck Conroe producing over $10 million in damage.
The warnings are also relayed to local emergency management and public safety officials who can activate emergency procedures to help protect the public. Although the northern parts of Lismore were worst hit, the whole district was affected as the storm powered on towards the Brunswick Heads area. The damage caused was just not welcome particularly since it was one of the few storms to hit the same region affected by the western Sydney hailstorm December 9 2007. Supercells, a special class of thunderstorms, are particularly violent and can last for several hours.
Although you may be injured if lightning strikes your car, you are much safer inside a vehicle than outside.
The image below describes a very concentrated downburst referred to as a microburst and the damaging outflow winds that result. One home was shifted about ten feet into another home next door dislodging it from its piers (both homes were Galveston 1900 Storm survivors).

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