By Erik Harden, BWC Public Information Officer
You know the saying about March coming in like a lion and going out like a lamb? Well, there’s some truth to it.
With winter transitioning to spring, March can give Ohioans everything from blizzard conditions and extreme cold to flooding rains and tornadoes. That’s why the Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness (OCSWA) and Gov. Mike DeWine are recognizing this week – March 17-23 – as Severe Weather Awareness Week in our state.
During the week, the state of Ohio will participate in a statewide tornado drill and test its Emergency Alert System at 9:50 a.m. Wednesday, March 20. During this time, Ohio counties will sound and test their outdoor warning sirens. Schools, businesses and households should also take this opportunity to practice their tornado drills and emergency plans.
Ohio saw 18 tornadoes in 2018. They were most common in April (which had six), but others occurred throughout the year. They’re most frequent in the spring and summer. So now is the time to update and assess your workplace safety/communications plans, replenish first-aid supplies and practice tornado drill with your workers.
Make sure everyone knows the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning. A tornado watch means conditions are favorable for the development of tornadoes. The National Weather Service issues a tornado warning when a tornado is imminent or occurring. The signs of a coming tornado include:
- Dark, often greenish skies.
- Large hail.
- Dark, low-lying clouds.
- Funnel-shaped clouds.
- Loud roaring, like a freight train.
Floods are far more common than tornadoes in the Buckeye State. They can come slowly or quickly – flash floods can happen with almost no warning. Not evacuating from a flooded area can result in injury or death, so always follow instructions from authorities.
Whether you’re at work or off the clock, never walk or drive through flooded areas. Moving water six inches deep can knock down adults. If flood waters are a foot deep, they can sweep away vehicles. At two feet, they can move SUVs and pickup trucks. Flash flood waters are even more dangerous.
Prepare for floods by planning and practicing an evacuation route and having disaster supplies on hand. During a flood, you should fill bathtubs, sinks and jugs with clean water in case water becomes contaminated, and move valuables to higher floors of your home. Follow the instructions of local authorities, and evacuate if possible.
Visit the OCSWA website to view current Ohio weather and to review severe weather safety and preparedness information. Whether you’re at home or work, always be prepared for Ohio’s unpredictable weather conditions.