Today’s focus is on Severe Thunderstorms and what a watch or warning means. A severe thunderstorm by definition is a thunderstorm that produces one inch hail or larger in diameter and/or winds equal or exceed 58 miles an hour. Although lightning can be deadly, the NWS doesn't use it to define a severe thunderstorm. If it did, every thunderstorm would be severe, by definition. The largest hailstone recorded in Iowa fell in Scott County on September 27, 1959. The stone measured seven inches in diameter. This hail storm caused tremendous damage. The highest wind speed recorded was 140 mph recorded by the National Weather Service in Cedar Rapids during the derecho on 8/10/2020.
In severe weather season, knowing the difference between a watch and a warning can be life-saving.
A WATCH means you should prepare for the possibility of a severe storm or tornado. This means the ingredients are there for severe weather to develop. You should review your safety plan and know where you would go if severe weather strikes. Making sure you have your weather app with push notifications turned on will allow you to get the latest watches and warnings on your phone.
A WARNING means you should act NOW, because severe weather is occurring, or a tornado has been seen or indicated by radar. This means get into your safe spot immediately especially if a Tornado Warning has been issued. If it is a Severe Thunderstorm Warning, get inside and away from any windows.
There are many means for notification of severe weather. In today’s digital world, most media outlets have weather notification apps that can alert you to incoming bad weather. Here are a couple of local media websites that have weather alert apps:
Another source of notification can come from NOAA Weather Radios. These radios are activated by the National Weather Service and provide emergency notification for incoming dangerous weather. They can be purchased through Walmart, Best Buy, and many other retailers of electronics.
Another source of information is to sign up for the Alert Iowa System. Alert Iowa is the State of Iowa’s official emergency notification system. Through Alert Iowa, State and local officials are able to utilize a single, statewide notification system that provides local control of how and when to disseminate emergency and public safety messages to residents. Sign up now to receive free alerts via text message, email, and/or voice message. Here are two easy ways to sign up:
Visit http://bit.ly/JasperAlerts to sign up for voice, text and email alerts OR text JASPERIA to 67283 via your mobile device.
Remember, outdoor warning sirens are for what their name states – OUTDOOR WARNING. While you may be able to hear them in your home, they are not designed to penetrate buildings. Outdoor warning sirens are to alert the public in the outdoors something bad is happening or will happen very soon. It is everyone’s own personal responsibility to find out why the outdoor warning sirens are being activated.