Over 90 aftershocks have occurred around Chile since Saturday’s earthquake. Tsunami advisory has been canceled in Alaska, the last U.S. area that was under alert following the Chilean quake. Second batch of waves hits Japan’s port of Kuji as tsunami warning remains in effect; waves were of at least 4 feet high. Chile has been declared a state of catastrophe after an 8.8 magnitude earthquake struck offshore overnight Saturday. This is the second largest quake to strike Chile in 50 years. The death toll is now over 700. 350 from the town of Constitucion alone. The Chile quake is responsible for destroying approximately 500,000 homes.
This week February 28 through March 6 is Severe Weather Preparedness Week in Illinois.
With the 2009-2010 meteorological winter over and astronomical winter just weeks away from being over, it is about time to start introducing the severe weather season. The purpose of this week is to bring severe weather awareness to families, businesses, and schools.
On Tuesday March 2 beginning at 10 am CST, Illinois will undergo a tornado drill. Test tornado warnings will be issued via TV, commercial radio, and NOAA radio. In addition, many locations will test out the tornado sirens.
There are a number of severe weather hazards such as tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, lightning, and flash flooding. Numerous deaths across the country occur from such events. Over the course of this week, I will discuss the facts and ways to prepare for each of these hazards starting with tornadoes.
A Tornado Watch means that conditions are favorable for tornado development in your area over the next few hours. Be prepared!
A Tornado Warning means that a tornado has been sighted by a trained storm spotter, or intense rotation that will likely produce a tornado has been detected by Doppler radar. Get to a place of safety immediately!
- There is an average of 43 tornadoes each year in Illinois.
- Illinois ranks fifth in the nation in tornado frequency per square mile.
- Most tornado damage paths in Illinois are less than 100 yards wide and a couple of miles long, but can be up to a mile wide and more than 60 miles long.
- The majority of Illinois tornadoes have occurred between April 1 and June 30, and between the hours of 3 PM and 10 PM. However, they have occurred every month of the year at all hours of the day.
- Nearly 30% of all tornadoes in Illinois occur after dark. Nationally, more than half of all tornado deaths have occurred at night. It is CRITICAL that homes and businesses have someone monitor severe weather conditions – especially at night. A weather radio is an excellent way to do this.
Key indicators that a tornado may be near:
- Strong, persistent rotation in the cloud base
- Whirling dust or debris on the ground under a cloud base. This may indicate a tornado funnel that is still inside the cloud.
- Hail or heavy rain followed by either dead calm or a fast, intense wind shift. Many tornadoes are wrapped in heavy precipitation and can’t be seen.
- Loud, continuous roar or rumble, which doesn’t fade in a few seconds like thunder. A tornado also may sound like a waterfall, trains, and jets.
- At night, small, bright, blueish green to white flashes at ground level near a thunderstorm, opposed to lightning flashes or strikes. This is a good indicator that power lines are being snapped by very strong wind, which may be a tornado.
- The sky may be a greenish black color.
- Clouds moving by very rapidly, which indicates strong winds
- Debris falling from the sky
- A funnel cloud that hasn’t touched the ground yet is a huge sign of a tornado.
Plans/actions to take in the case of a tornado:
- It is imperative to purchase a NOAA Weather Alert Radio. These automatically alerts you when a Watch or Warning is issued for your county. A TV is also a good option.
- Determine the best location in your home and office to seek shelter when threatened by a tornado. A basement or cellar provides the best protection. If an underground shelter is not available, locate an interior room or hallway on the lowest level. Closets, small interior hallways, and bathrooms without windows are the best areas.
- Maintain a disaster supply kit. This is useful in the case of extended power outages in the aftermath of a storm.
- Conduct periodic tornado safety drills at home and at work.
- If outdoors, find and get inside a substantial building, on the lowest floor. If you cannot find an indoor shelter, or there is no time to get indoors, lie in a ditch. You want to use your arms to protect your head and neck. Stay aware of the potential for flash flooding.
- Use a mattress or a piece of sturdy furniture to protect yourself from flying debris.
Sources: NOAA, SPC, IEMA