If you were to see a tornado approaching, you would have limited time to make important life-or-death decisions. Knowing the basics of tornado safety, planning ahead, and participating in tornado safety drills lowers the chance of injury or death if a tornado were to strike our community.
Tornadoes are nature’s most violent storms. Spawned from powerful thunderstorms, tornadoes can devastate an entire neighborhood in seconds. North Carolina averages 16 tornadoes each year with peak activity in May; however, there is no true “tornado season” in NC. Tornadoes are most likely to occur between 3 PM and 9 PM but can occur at any time. Because conditions can deteriorate so rapidly, being aware of the adverse weather can greatly improve your safety.
Know the terms:
A TORNADO WATCH means conditions are right for the development of a tornado or severe weather. During a watch, members of HPU should be alert to possible changes in weather conditions.
A TORNADO WARNING means that a tornado or severe weather is occurring or has been sighted or indicated by National Weather Service radar.
Seek immediate shelter if any of the following are encountered:
If you cannot get to a safe shelter, lie down flat in a low area such as a ditch away from trees with your hands covering the back of your head and neck.
Thunderstorms typically are 15 miles or less in diameter and last an average of 20 to 30 minutes. Downbursts and straight-line winds associated with thunderstorms can produce winds of 100-150 miles per hour. Of the estimated 100,000 thunderstorms in the United States each year, only about 10% are classified as severe. Lightning, a major threat during thunderstorms, is responsible for more deaths annually than tornadoes. Since lightning strikes are very unpredictable, the risk to individuals and property can be significant.
A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING means that there are currently severe thunderstorms in the area or that one is imminent based on Doppler radar. These storms are potentially accompanies by cloud-to-ground lightning, high winds, and hail. Thunderstorms are classified as “Severe” if they produce hail that is dime size (.75” in diameter or larger) and/or wind gusts to 58 mph or more, or produce a tornado.
During a thunderstorm/lightning event, you should:
CALCULATING LIGHTNING DISTANCE:
Lightning often strikes outside of heavy rain and may occur as far as 10 miles away from any landfall. To estimate your distance from the lightning flash, use the “Flash to Bang” method: if you observe lightning, count the number of seconds until you hear thunder. Divide the number of seconds by five in order to get the distance in miles.
Lightning can strike up to 10 miles from a storm. Seek shelter as soon as you hear thunder or see lightning. Go to a safe location if the time between the lightning flash and the thunder clap is 30 seconds or less. The chance of being struck by lightning is approximately 1 in 600,000. However, this can be reduced even further by following safety precautions. Lightning strikes are serious medical emergencies requiring immediate attention. Contrary to popular belief, lightning strike victims carry no electrical charge and should be attended to immediately.
HPU Lightning Response:
When lightning is detected within 8 miles of campus, all pools will be evacuated and card access restricted. Pool access will be restricted until the storm passes (30 minutes after a lightning strike within 8 miles). Campus Rec, Athletics and Security officials will clear athletic and intramural fields.
Flooding can occur anytime of the year and just about anywhere in North Carolina. Whether you are in your home, driving or on foot, flooding can be extremely dangerous. Flooded roads pose significant safety hazards, and can knock you off your feet or sweep your car away.
A Flood Watch means that flooding is possible; you should tune into NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio or television for more information.
A Flash Flood Watch means that flash flooding is possible. You should be prepared to move to higher ground.
A Flood Warning means that flooding is occurring or is imminent. If advised to evacuate, do so immediately.
A Flash Flood Warning means that a flash flood is occurring or will occur soon. Seek higher ground on foot immediately.
Click here to learn more about your flood risk by using the Flood Plain Mapping Tool.
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