Nebraska Severe Weather Awareness Week concluded on Friday, but the threat of severe weather never goes away in Nebraska.
From tornadoes and thunderstorms to flooding, from wildfires to drought, our state has its share of severe weather.
Severe Weather Awareness Week is observed in the spring to draw attention specifically to the threat of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes. Last year Nebraska had 21 tornadoes, less than half of the 30-year average of 51, but we only need to look at what happened Thursday night with thunderstorms and tornadoes stretching from the Deep South north to Ohio.
About eight tornadoes struck in Alabama Thursday and the storms rolled into western Georgia overnight. Thunderstorms and flooding also caused damage in parts of Tennessee, Kentucky and the Carolinas. In Ohio, more than 100,000 people were without power early Friday due to thunderstorms with strong winds.
This year already has seen highly volatile weather in our area with central Nebraska going from above-normal temperatures to start the year off to a frigid February with nearly 14 inches of snow and several days when the temperature was more than 20 degrees below zero. Then came the heavy rainfall in March that has totaled more than 8 inches for Grand Island and the month isn’t over yet.
The National Weather Service in Hastings says there could be an uptick of severe weather in the area this spring.
That means it’s time to update your family’s severe weather planning, making sure you have a place to take shelter in case of severe weather and it is stocked with water, flashlights and other supplies you would need.
Be aware of the danger of lightning, hail, flash flooding and tornadoes that can occur with severe thunderstorms. It isn’t safe to be outside or even driving in a car during severe weather. Find shelter and wait it out.
Flash flooding is by far the primary killer among severe weather hazards, claiming approximately 140 lives each year in the U.S. More than half of all flash flood fatalities are vehicle-related, so don’t try to drive through the water.
Tornadoes kill about 60 people each year in the U.S.
So if there’s a tornado warning for your area or even a severe thunderstorm warning, stop what you’re doing and take shelter.
It’s better to be safe and able to rebuild after a storm rather than be one of the casualties.