It is spring in the United States. It is a time of nature’s renewal as the grass gets greener, the flowers start to bloom and the trees regain their leaves. It is also the time of year when the weather can quickly take a turn for the worst!
Living in Texas, we must always be mindful of the weather. What can start out as a perfectly beautiful spring day can turn into an afternoon of severe thunderstorms with flooding, hail or even tornadoes! Spring storms can be so unpredictable in Texas. Because of our geographical location we can receive moisture from the Gulf of Mexico, as well as from the Pacific Ocean by means of traveling the wind currents over Mexico.
Just a couple of days ago, several Texas counties experienced extremely heavy rainfall resulting in major flooding. Especially hard hit was the Houston metropolitan area. Much of that area received up to 17 inches (43.18 Centimeters) in less than 12 hours. More than 1000 homes have been flooded, plus numerous businesses, apartment complexes and schools. Hundreds of high water rescues took place which included both people and animals that were caught in the rapidly rising flood waters. Sadly, at least seven deaths have been directly attributed to the flooding in the Houston area.
Flooding kills more people than lightning or tornadoes. If you get caught in a storm, make sure you know your location of where you are driving at. Stay away from low water crossings and bridges. A good rule of thumb and you hear it all the time: Turn Around Don’t Drown! People should also remember that just because the storm passes the threat of flooding from the cresting of rivers and creeks can linger for days. It is best to avoid low water crossing areas around rivers and creeks until they have been declared safe.
Just a week earlier, on April 12th, the San Antonio metropolitan area was hit with a severe thunderstorm. Rainfall amounts were relatively minor with reports of 1.5 inches (3.81 Centimeters) to 2 inches (5.08 Centimeters) in most of the area. The major concern with this storm was the golf ball to tennis ball sized hail that accompanied the storms which caused numerous reports of property damage to vehicles and homes.
No matter where you live, there is always the chance that sever weather can strike. Many times, even before you see rain, you will hear thunder and see lightning. The worst place to be when lighting occurs is outside because there really is NO safe place outside. If you should happen to be outside and cannot take cover, follow these simple rules:
- Get off elevated areas such as hills, mountains, and bridges.
- Never take shelter underneath a single tree to weather the storm.
- Stay away from bodies of water, such as lakes, ponds, rivers, and oceans.
- Stay away from things that conduct electricity.
If you are inside:
- Stay off phones, computers, and electronic devices.
- Avoid plumbing such as sinks and bathtubs.
- You may think it is exciting to watch a storm on a front or back porch, but stay away from porches and windows.
It’s always a good idea to have a “survival kit” ready because storms come and go very quickly. This is especially true in Texas! A survival kit may include flashlights, extra batteries, candles, matches, bottled water, an extra power source for your phone such as a portable charger, emergency first aid supplies, a portable radio, and non-perishable goods. You may want to also keep a copy of emergency phone numbers on hand, extra sets of keys and anything else of importance to help in case severe weather activity occurs.