Spring marks the be­gin­ning of tor­nado sea­son

Maryland Independent - - News -

Now that tor­nado sea­son is here, the Charles County Depart­ment of Emer­gency Ser­vices en­cour­ages res­i­dents to be pre­pared. Tor­na­does are vi­o­lent by na­ture and ca­pa­ble of com­pletely de­stroy­ing well-made struc­tures, up­root­ing trees and hurl­ing ob­jects like deadly mis­siles. A tor­nado ap­pears as a ro­tat­ing, fun­nel-shaped cloud that ex­tends from a thun­der­storm to the ground with whirling winds that can reach 300 miles per hour.

Pre­pare a home tor­nado plan

• 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 high­rise 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.

Watch vs. warn­ing: What’s the dif­fer­ence?

• Tor­nado Watch — Tor­na­does are pos­si­ble in and near the watch area. Re­view and dis­cuss your emer­gency plans, and check sup­plies and your safe room. Be ready to act quickly if a warn­ing is is­sued or you sus­pect a tor­nado is ap­proach­ing. Act­ing early helps to save lives!

• Tor­nado Warn­ing — A tor­nado has been sighted or in­di­cated by weather radar. Tor­nado warn­ings in­di­cate im­mi­nent dan­ger to life and prop­erty. Go im­me­di­ately un­der ground to a base­ment, storm cel­lar or an in­te­rior room (closet, hall­way or bath­room). In the open out­doors: If pos­si­ble, seek shel­ter in a sturdy build­ing. If not, lie flat and face-down on low ground, pro­tect­ing the back of your head with your arms. Get as far away from trees and cars as you can; they may be blown onto you in a tor­nado. Fly­ing de­bris is the great­est dan­ger in tor­na­does.

Signs of a tor­nado:

• Strong, per­sis­tent ro­ta­tion in the cloud base.

• Whirling dust or de­bris on the ground un­der a cloud base — tor­na­does some­times have no fun­nel.

• Hail or heavy rain fol­lowed by ei­ther dead calm or a fast, in­tense wind shift. Many tor­na­does are wrapped in heavy pre­cip­i­ta­tion and can’t be seen.

• Day or night — Loud, con­tin­u­ous roar or rum­ble, which doesn’t fade in a few sec­onds like thun­der.

• Night — Small, bright, blue-green to white flashes at ground level near a thun­der­storm (as op­posed to sil­very light­ning up in the clouds). Th­ese mean power lines are be­ing snapped by very strong wind, maybe a tor­nado.

Per­sis­tent low­er­ing from the cloud base, il­lu­mi­nated or sil­hou­et­ted by light­ning — es­pe­cially if it is on the ground or there is a blue-green­white power flash un­der­neath.

Af­ter a tor­nado:

Keep your fam­ily to­gether and wait for emer­gency per­son­nel to ar­rive. Care­fully ren­der aid to those who are in­jured. Stay away from power lines and pud­dles with wires in them; they may still be car­ry­ing elec­tric­ity. Watch your step to avoid bro­ken glass, nails, and other sharp ob­jects. Stay out of any heav­ily dam­aged houses or build­ings; they could col­lapse at any time. Do not use matches or lighters, in case of leak­ing nat­u­ral gas pipes or fuel tanks nearby. Re­main calm and alert, and lis­ten for in­for­ma­tion and in­struc­tions from emer­gency crews or lo­cal of­fi­cials.

Res­i­dents are urged to reg­is­ter /re­view their pro­files for the lat­est CNS up­dates and alerts from Charles County Gov­ern­ment, Charles County Pub­lic Schools, Charles County Sher­iff’s Of­fice and the Na­tional Weather Ser­vice.

To reg­is­ter for CNS, man­age your mes­sage set­tings, pro­vide pre­ferred con­tact in­for­ma­tion, and se­lect cat­e­gories go to, www.CharlesCoun­tyMD.gov/CNS.

For ad­di­tional in­for­ma­tion, safety tips and pub­lic outreach re­sources, go to www.spc.noaa.gov/faq/ tor­nado/safety.html and www.red­cross.org/.

Clinic to con­nect res­i­dents with vol­un­teer at­tor­neys

Mary­land Vol­un­teer Lawyers Ser vice (MVLS) Cy­ber Civil Clinic will take place 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Wed­nes­day, April 5, at the Charles County Pub­lic Law Li­brary, 200 Charles St., La Plata.

The clinic is de­signed to reach low-in­come res­i­dents in South­ern Mary­land. In part­ner­ship with the Charles County Pub­lic Law Li­brary, MVLS will of­fer free video chat ses­sions with vol­un­teer at­tor­neys who will help res­i­dents nav­i­gate com­pli­cated fore­clo­sure pro­ceed­ings.

For res­i­dents who want to par­tic­i­pate in the free Cy­ber Civil Clinic, they can re­serve a spot by call­ing the li­brary at 301-9323322.

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