The old saying, “March comes in like a lion, and out like a lamb,” really didn’t come true this year! It went out the same way it came in! Just because that happened, the month of April didn’t have to carry on the “lion” tradition; however, for some reason, this month didn’t get the message! The week of April 14th through 16th brought the largest single system of tornado outbreaks in United States history – 153 confirmed twisters. These wind funnels danced through at least 14 states, killing an estimated 43 persons. St. Louis, Missouri’s Lambert Airport was hit Sunday, April 24th, by the most powerful tornado that had happened in their area in forty-four years. Miraculously, no one was seriously hurt or killed, but more than 100 homes were destroyed. News that tornadoes are continuing this week makes us even more aware that we must be prepared.
The Weather Channel has reported the confirmation of 292 tornadoes in the United States so far this month, beating the previous April record of 267 in 1974. Storm survey teams continue to assess the damage from this month’s storms and could change the number of confirmed tornadoes. The average for April is only 116, according to the nation’s Storm Prediction Center, in Norman, Oklahoma. With a few days left in April, one can only wonder how many more will touch down somewhere.
Last week, my husband and I decided to subscribe to a weather prediction service offered through one of Dallas’ television stations, as tornado season seems to have hit with a vengence. On Saturday and Sunday night, we received several phone calls from this service, warning of either severe thunderstorms in our immediate area or tornado warnings for our area. (I believe we got our money’s worth for a year’s subscription to this service in those two nights.) Local sirens also sounded, adding to the warnings. We were relying on these types of warnings, as our television satellite usually fails during storms. A NOAA battery-operated radio is also very helpful. By checking the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Weather Service website, you can obtain just about any kind of warning, forecast, or information needed for your location. Images of tornado tracks in the United States look as though a line was drawn down the center of the U.S., making it much more colorful from the center to the eastern border. Frankly, it would be just as well to live on the less colorful side of the line during storm season!
Flooding is another very serious threat during this time of the year, too. We never know when a natural disaster may happen, so we should take the warnings seriously and be prepared. As previously suggested, disaster kits should be filled with staples and supplies that will last several days. A first aid kit should be available at all times, both in the home and vehicle. And keep that cell phone charged up!
Early warnings, good timing, and common sense are credited with saving many lives. Don’t ignore those weather watches and warnings – weather professionals are doing a good job by forecasting upcoming changes that pose threats. Pay attention and be ready! Taking a CPR class is a good idea, too. You never know when you may be able to help a neighbor or family member that gets injured during storms. Let’s hope that May showers will bring spring flowers, and nothing else! Both May and June are still months for thunderstorms and tornadoes, but maybe we will get a break this year. If not, records will be set for 2011.
For those who have been affected by fires, tornadoes, or floods, we wish you a safe recovery and that things can someday soon return to normal.