More Severe Weather Insights

June is one of the target months for severe weather to impact the Wisconsin River Valley. Although the weather pattern for this week appears to be fairly tranquil by late spring standards, the odds continue to favor a ramp up in the risk of damaging storms. With that in mind, let's continue with answers to some common questions we get in the weather lab about how to prepare or react when thunderstorms are on the way.

Q: What should I do if I am out camping and storms are headed toward the area?


A: For starters, you should have a plan of action together before you even pitch the tent. On your way to the campground, find out what buildings or stores are in close vicinity. Also, check with the folks in charge at the campground about what their procedure is if a tornado warning is issued for the local area. Is there a shelter that you should move to, or are you on your own? Also, are there any tornado sirens that are within earshot of the campsite? Once you've got those down, be sure to bring along a NOAA weather radio, and a cell phone. The radio is for obvious reasons, the cell phone is good to have not only to stay in touch with friends and for emergencies but also to check in with someone who can tell you more about how the weather may be impacting your area.


If storms hit, do not take shelter in your tent when there is lots of lightning, very heavy downpours or the risk of tornadoes. In the event of strong to severe storms, you should at least head to the car, leaving the windows rolled up and wait for the rough weather to pass. In the event of a tornado approaching, you need to take shelter in a sturdy structure or if none is available, head to a low lying spot or ditch and cover your head. As we have seen with storms that have gone through campground, there are lots of trees that could easily be torn apart (creating plenty of debris) along with any tents or RVs that could also be thrown around.

Q: I live close by to mountains or in a city. Tornadoes never would be able to impact my area, right?


A: Wrong!! If you watched our Nature Attacks series back in May (or you can check it out here on the webchannel), there have been many instances where tornadoes have touched down in a mountainous area, or even in places close by to a mountain, like Rib Mountain back in the late 70s. The same holds true for cites, where in the past few years, tornadoes have hit downtown Atlanta, Oklahoma City and even New York City. It doesn't matter what part of the country you are in, there is always the chance that a twister could occur, particularly in the spring and summer months. Granted climatologically speaking, the greatest threat of tornadic weather is in the Midwest from Texas north into the Mississippi River Valley and over toward the western Tennessee and Ohio River Valleys.

Q: What do I do if the power goes out and I still want to keep informed on the latest round of severe storms?


A: This does happen with storms every spring and summer, so it is always good to have a battery operated radio or tv available to use. Whether it is a NOAA weather radio, or tuning in to our radio partner 550AM WSAU, you can get the latest warning information and details on where damage has been reported in relation to the storms. If you are listening to WSAU, they plan on simulcasting some of our severe weather coverage from our 24/7 weather channel, so you may actually hear us in the weather lab providing you the latest details. The battery operated tv is going through some changes in the wake of the DTV transition. Before you buy one of these small televisions, be sure it has a digital tuner. Most by this point should, but if it doesn't, then it will be useless. With this small tv, you will not only be able to still watch your favorite shows on Newschannel 7 if the power is out, but also you should also be able to pick up our 24/7 weather channel on 7-3. We haven't had much practice doing this yet since the switch over in February, but it will certainly come in handy.

In the coming weeks, I'll be going more in-depth on previewing or recapping severe weather events that impact our area from all the hail and wind damage to what lead to the development of tornadoes. So be sure to check back for updates!

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