This week’s expected heavy rains could come with severe weather, and authorities advise residents to look sharp and be ready for the emergencies rough weather can create.
The National Weather Service has posted a flash flood watch for the metro area and beyond from 1 a.m. Tuesday to 7 a.m. Thursday in anticipation of the three to four inches of rain expected by Thursday. Creeks, streams and low-water crossings could flood, and drivers are reminded to never drive into a flooded roadway.
Those storms could come with large hail, damaging winds and even a few tornadoes. Jackson County is within a large area of Missouri and Kansas where scattered severe storms are expected Tuesday afternoon and evening.
It’s been a relatively quiet spring in Missouri, but now to mid-June is when severe weather – hail, wind, heavy rain, tornadoes – is most common. Missouri had 47 tornadoes in 2018, and Jackson County has averaged about one every other year since 1950 – but 37 people have died in tornadoes in Jackson County in that time.
Officials advise having several means of getting weather information and being what they call weather alert. Most people rely on the TV, but an all-hazards radio – also known as a weather radio – also works well, as it can be programmed to sound an alert when there’s a storm in your area. Also, any number of smartphone apps can bring you severe weather alerts.
At home, have a plan – that is, clear out a secure place on a lower level for ride out a bad storm. Avoid areas with windows, and put as many walls between yourself and the outside as your can. Have some supplies. A good start would be flashlights and fresh batteries, a first-aid kit, blankets and sleeping bags, basic hand tools. some water and food, and a phone charger. Those are also good to keep in your car.
It’s also helpful to know a little bit of weather forecaster terminology, specifically the difference between a watch and a warning:
• A watch means conditions are favorable for heavy weather such as a severe thunderstorm. Watches are usually posted for fairly large areas – sometimes dozens of counties – and can be posted for several hours.
• A warning means take cover now. It means either radar or a trained human spotter has detected severe weather. Warnings are usually of shorter length than watches and for the specific localities in a storm’s path. The Weather Service often can predict to the minute when a storm will hit a certain town or city.