Editorial: Prepare for severe weather this spring

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Already this year in the United States, more than twice the average number of tornadoes has been recorded.

And last year in Minnesota, there were 68 tornadoes. Wind gusts reached 110 mph in one spot. Hail as large as softballs was recorded, but the tennis-ball variety, along with 100-mph wind gusts, caused $300 million worth of damage in the Twin Cities suburbs alone.

We all think severe weather only happens elsewhere, to other people, but dangerous weather doesn’t discriminate. And it doesn’t always respect the calendar, coming in the summer when weather is hot and humid. A tornado

&045;&160;which would become known as Black Sunday &045;&160;struck Freeborn County on April 30, 1967. Five people died as a result here.

There isn’t anything anyone can do to stop a tornado.

Preparedness is the only defense in staying alive.

We urge our readers to prepare a home tornado plan. According to the American Red Cross, people should 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.

When a tornado watch is issued, people should:

– Listen to local radio and TV stations for further updates.

– Be alert to changing weather conditions. Blowing debris or the sound of an approaching tornado may alert you. Many people say it sounds like a freight train.

In the case of a tornado warning:

– If you are inside, go to the safe place you picked to protect yourself from glass and other flying objects. The tornado may be approaching your area.

– If you are outside, hurry to the basement of a nearby sturdy building or lie flat in a ditch or low-lying area.

– If you are in a car or mobile home, get out immediately and head for safety (as above).

After the tornado passes:

– Watch out for fallen power lines and stay out of the damaged area.

– Listen to the radio for information and instructions.

– Use a flashlight to inspect your home for damage.

This week is known as Severe Weather Awareness Week. On Thursday, a statewide drill is being held at 1:45 so schools and businesses can practice their emergency plans. Another voluntary drill at 6:55 p.m. will allow families and second-shift workers to practice their sheltering plans.

We hope everyone takes a few minutes to think about an emergency plan this week. Spring and summer storms need to be taken seriously.