Be careful out there--stormy weather safety

With the 4th of July approaching, and festival season in full swing, it's time for summer  fun.  Concerts, a day at the beach, picnics in the forest preserves, camping, hiking, boating, baseball, there are so many ways to enjoy being outdoors.

But along with  summer comes severe weather season. Monday's powerful storms are an example--thunder and lightning, rain, high winds, hail, flash flooding!  Don't let bad weather become a disaster.  If you are planning outdoor activities, follow the motto of the National Weather Service--be aware, and be prepared.

Be aware of the weather.

Pay attention to the forecast. Long-range forecasts can give you 10 days' lead time on possible  weather developments. Monday's severe storm warnings were issued hours ahead, and the forecast was spot on!  Accurate forecasting can give you enough warning to  change your plans,  get where you're going, or seek shelter, if necessary.

Most people rely on more than one source for  weather information. If you don't have one, now is the time to get a weather radio.  Pocket radios are good to take with you, too. Smartphones can  give you up-to-the-minute weather developments.  I could do a whole post on all the weather apps available!  has many to choose from.

In addition to weather apps,  the National Weather Service is on Twitter, now. You can follow them, too @NWS Chicago for instantaneous updates. There are also feeds for  Milwaukee, St. Louis, Indianapolis, and more.

Be aware of  where you are.

Did you drive, or take public transportation?  Have you been to this place before?  On the water, on a golf course, in a park at an outdoor wedding, if you had to seek shelter, where would you go?

Be prepared.

People understand that outdoor plans are "weather permitting". Do you have a Plan B  in case of rain? Maybe you can reschedule that  picnic or postpone that camping trip.

If you are with others, do you have a plan if  you get separated?  This can happen, especially in a crowded situation.

Large public events, like concerts or ballgames, should  have procedures in place for dealing with bad weather and crowds. But when there are large groups of people, you know how confusing things can become. Panic can ensue.  Try to be the  calm in the storm. Be helpful if you can.


Don't panic

Avoid downed power lines

Be careful of high standing water

Do not seek shelter under trees

In addition---

Here is a post on lightning safety.

Here is  a post on tornado safety.

Fortunately, stormy weather is not in the forecast for the Chicago area this weekend, but  summer is just heating up. Enjoy the  beautiful weather, and  be careful out there!




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  • Thanks for the "Don't panic" part especially. I stay calm most of the time, but I admit that Monday was almost Basil Fawlty time -- as in "Don't panic? What else is there to do?!" (But then I remembered I was indoors already.)

  • In reply to MargaretSerious:

    Thanks for reading. Maybe I should put that in boldface!

  • I'm not sure that the hourly forecast (whether on Accuweather or the various TV "futurecasts") is of much value. On Monday, most were predicting rain by 5 p.m., but the first wave was closer to 7. It supposedly was going to be the worst, but the second, hitting starting about 9 had the derecho and tornado rotation echos.

    Having been soaked twice before this year at 5:30, I did my business earlier on Monday, but that wasn't necessary.

    My usual method is to look at the weather radar, and if weather is heading in my direction, figure it is going to rain.

    Also i was surprised, for about 6 seconds that the Sox canceled their game instead of the usual "we'll start with a delay, but try to get this one in" but I assume Roger Bossard was watching the radar and determined there was no chance.

  • In reply to jack:

    Yes, the second wave on Monday was worse. fireflies at 9:00, tornado sirens at 10:15. Tom skilling called the first wave at 6, the second wave to arrive at 10. You can follow him on twitter, too @Skilling

    Maybe the Bears game in November was a lesson on what could happen if you are too arrogant about stormy weather? Better to be safe....

  • In reply to Weather Girl:

    Story now was that there were 2 derechos, and apparently the second one being worse was not expected, because they figured that the first wouldn't move north and comparatively peter out.

  • In reply to jack:

    Also, 8 tornadoes reported!

  • It's the don't panic that does me in every time. For real! I tend to panic first and get that out of the way.

  • In reply to Kathy Mathews:

    Good advice! By the way, I am working on a post on dealing with power outages...

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