Warm sea­son is storm sea­son

Maryland Independent - - Community Forum -

Win­ter in Charles County, and across much of the Mid-At­lantic, was a strange one this year. We donned our shorts at Christ­mas and en­dured a bliz­zard in the weeks that fol­lowed. With tem­per­a­tures of­ten fluc­tu­at­ing dra­mat­i­cally from week to week, and oc­ca­sion­ally from day to day, de­cid­ing how to dress on a given morn­ing some­times posed a chal­lenge.

Chalk it up to cli­mate change or just a wacky sea­son, but fore­cast­ers seem to be­lieve the win­ter blues are fi­nally over (aside from the cold blast we are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing this week), and with the Wash­ing­ton, D.C., cherry blos­soms con­tin­u­ing to bloom and at­tract visi­tors from far and wide, spring has of­fi­cially ar­rived — and with it, the start of a new sea­son of po­ten­tially ex­treme weather.

The Charles County Gov­ern­ment is­sued a press re­lease last week, ask­ing res­i­dents to pre­pare for the high winds, heavy rains, light­ning, hail and for­ma­tion of tor­na­does that can some­times strike the re­gion dur­ing warmer months. Tor­na­does can pro­duce wind speeds greater than 250 mph, stretch up to a mile wide and stay on the ground for up to 50 miles, ac­cord­ing to a county press re­lease.

Here are some tips the county ad­vises res­i­dents take be­fore a tor­nado de­vel­ops:

• Pick a place where fam­ily mem­bers could gather if a tor­nado is headed your way. It could be your base­ment or, if there is no base­ment, a cen­ter hall­way, bath­room, or closet on the lowest floor. Keep this place un­clut­tered.

• If you are in a high-rise build­ing, you may not have enough time to go to the lowest floor. Pick a place in a hall­way in the cen­ter of the build­ing.

• Be familiar with the var­i­ous types of watches and warn­ings is­sued for se­vere weather. These in­clude “se­vere thun­der­storm watch,” “se­vere thun­der­storm warn­ing,” “tor­nado watch” and “tor­nado warn­ing,” the last of which means a tor­nado has been sighted or in­di­cated by weather radar.

If a tor­nado warn­ing is is­sued — mean­ing con­di­tions are fa­vor­able for a tor­nado to form — res­i­dents are urged to take shel­ter im­me­di­ately, ei­ther un­der­ground or, if that’s not an op­tion, in an in­te­rior room or hall­way on the lowest floor, be­neath a sturdy piece of fur­ni­ture. Stay away from win­dows. Aban­don mo­bile homes, as they of­fer lit­tle pro­tec­tion, and don’t get in the car. If you’re driv­ing, the re­lease states, don’t try to outrun a tor­nado; in­stead, seek sturdy shel­ter, or leave the ve­hi­cle and lay in a ditch or de­pres­sion with your hands cov­er­ing your head. Do not get un­der an over­pass or bridge.

Se­vere weather no­tices are posted on the Charles County Gov­ern­ment web­site (http://www.charlescoun­tymd.gov/), on Face­book (https://www.face­book.com/CharlesCounty), and on Twit­ter (https://twit­ter.com/CharlesCoMD). Weather up­dates are also aired on CCGTV, which broad­casts on Com­cast chan­nel 95 and Ver­i­zon chan­nel 10. Sign up for the Cit­i­zen No­ti­fi­ca­tion Sys­tem (http://www.charlescoun­tymd.gov/CNS) to re­ceive in­clement weather and traf­fic alerts by text mes­sage, email, or phone. For in­for­ma­tion on power out­ages, view the SMECO out­age map (http://storm­cen­ter.smeco.coop/ex­ter­nal/de­fault.html). Call 877-747-6326 to re­port a power out­age. Call 911 in the event of an emer­gency.

So while you’re bask­ing in the fresh spring air and sun­shine, and count­ing down the days to this year’s an­nual sum­mer va­ca­tion, re­mem­ber to be weather con­scious and en­joy the warm sea­son safely.

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