Eyes on the Skies: Stay Safe in the Storm

By: Shane Motley Email
By: Shane Motley Email

Over the past five days, we've shown you that severe weather can strike the Brazos Valley at any time, and with deadly force. But as the storms move in, will you know what to do?

When severe weather strikes, you could be anywhere: at home, at work, sleeping, or driving. But depending on where you are makes a difference in the actions you should take to protect yourself from severe weather, actions that could save your life.

Heavy showers are a familiar sight across the Brazos Valley, but when these showers persist, they can turn every creek, river, and stream into a deadly raging torrent of water. Every year, more deaths occur from flash flooding than from any other form of severe weather.

So how do you stay safe during a flash flood? If you live in a flood prone area be sure to monitor river levels and always be prepared to move to higher ground. However, many flash flooding deaths actually occur from those trying to drive across flooded roadways. It only takes two feet of water to sweep a car down stream.

In addition, roadways like the one seen here can wash out taking you and your car downstream. Two highway workers in Hearne were fortunate enough to make it out of the 2004 storms alive. Whenever you come to a flooded road way, turn around, don't drown.

Although flash flooding does pose a significant danger, as the thunderstorms bubble and grow in the warm Texas summer, flash flooding is not a guarantee. There is, however, an under-rated killer that accompanies every single thunderstorm.

In Texas alone, lightning has killed more than 200 people and caused more than 600 injuries over the last 50 years. And for one of those fortunate enough to survive, it's a frightening experience he'll never forget.

"What scared me was when I could physically hear the air charging," said Cliff Wallace, who was once struck. "I could hear it cracking and it just kind of slowly cracked to faster faster faster to a loud boom and a big white flash and that's the last thing I remember about standing up."

Thunder is always your first clue that you are in danger. If you hear it, head indoors, because the next clue could come too late.

"The first thing I felt was my hair starting to stand up on my hands and my arms and the back of my neck and everything," Wallace said. "That was really a clue to me that things to me were abnormal, something was out of place."

Always remember, if you can hear thunder you're close enough to get struck. So when thunder roars, head indoors.

Although the low rumble of thunder can be peaceful, weather's most wild beast, the tornado, produces a rumble that can be downright terrifying.

So what do you do if you are in a twister's path? If you are at home, grab couch cushions or a mattress and get into a small windowless interior room on the lowest floor like a hallway, closet, or bathroom. You want as many walls between you and the outside as possible.

Cars and mobile homes offer no protection from a tornado and must be evacuated to a substantial shelter. If no shelter is available, find a ditch or low spot and cover your head with your hands.

The dangers of severe weather are a part of everyday life in the Brazos Valley. However, remembering what you need to do when severe weather strikes will help keep you and your family safe.


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