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March is Severe Weather Awareness Month

When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!

March is severe weather awareness month, and with the changing of the seasons comes the threat of flooding and severe weather, including thunderstorms, downbursts/damaging winds, lightning, tornadoes, hail storms, waterspouts, tropical cyclones (hurricanes), and dust storms. 

With the increased risk of severe weather in our area during the spring time, it’s important to recognize our number one threat: flooding.  A flood or flash flood WATCH means a flood is possible in your area.   A flood or flash flood WARNING means flooding is already occurring or will occur soon in your area.  A severe thunderstorm WATCH means conditions are favorable for thunderstorms; a WARNING indicates severe thunderstorms are occurring and/or capable of producing large hail or high winds causing significant damage.  Late-winter cold fronts, mixing with lots of gulf moisture, can spark intense thunderstorms across San Antonio, so always be prepared to act quickly.

The best defense for severe weather is awareness and preparedness.  When a thunderstorm is approaching, keep an eye on the sky.  Look for darkening skies, lightning, or increasing wind.  When thunder roars, go indoors!  If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to the storm to be struck by lightning. Go to safe shelter immediately and wait out the storm.

Lightning

Severe thunderstorms can produce flash flooding in the San Antonio metro.  Did you know moving water only six inches deep can sweep you off your feet?  Twelve inches can sweep a car off the road.  It’s best to turn around, don’t drown.  Standing flood water may be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines. Crossing or disregarding a barricade in San Antonio is a Class B misdemeanor that includes a fine of up to $2,000 and up to 180 days in jail. Moving a barricade posted at a low water crossing also is a Class B misdemeanor that may result in a fine of up to $1,000 and up to two years in jail.  You can be arrested for either offense.  Additionally, the San Antonio Fire Department (SAFD) charges a fee of $400 for each person rescued from a designated low water crossing.

Remember that the best decision you can make during severe weather and/or a flood is to shelter-in-place and ride out the storm.  For more information on flooding in our area, please visit the www.floodsmart.gov or the National Weather Service at www.weather.gov/austin. During a storm, listen to local radio or TV stations for flood information, and monitor the UTSA Campus Alerts webpage at www.alerts.utsa.edu

Sources:  American Red Cross, City of San Antonio, National Flood Insurance Program

By Lorenzo D. Sanchez, Director of Emergency Management

lorenzo.sanchez@utsa.edu; 210-458-6756

 

3-6-2017