Rain, Rain, Go Away...

This week, I am attending a FEMA class about Weather and Flooding.  I expected it would be rather routine.  Many of these classes follow a similar framework - educate, plan, alert, respond, and resolve.  Boy, was I surprised.  Sure, it follows the expected framework, but not only did we learn to mark up weather maps like a TV weather anchor, but we were taught to "predict" storms location and severity about 24 hours out.  (God help us all if anyone ever has to depend on my predictions alone.)  I learned the basics of how, when, where and why severe weather (like thunderstorms and tornadoes) form.  I learned why they predicted snow but we got sleet last week (above looping graphic).  We watched video clips of beautiful and dangerous storm centers, storm chasers saving a police officer, and passenger cars floating down streets and worse.  Our instructor, a seasoned National Weather Service (NWS) meteorologist, along with his local team (and hundreds of other professionals across the nation) help provide a constant flow of weather information to you and me. 

After all I learned, here's what you and I need to know and need to do:
  • Check the local weather report once a day, perhaps every morning.  The forecasts are pretty accurate 24 hours out.  Get a sense of what's going to be going on, know whether to check later, too.
  • Get a NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association) weather radio and leave it on at home and at work.  Weather can change quickly, a NOAA radio will help you stay safe.
  • The NWS website is accessible to every one of us.  Just point and click!  You can look at the detailed, robust, and identical information that every US television or radio station uses (including the Weather Channel).  They all use the exact same data.
  • Learn about your local weather threats, how to avoid them, and take warnings seriously.  Tornadoes are a destructive force, but did you know that more people are killed from lightning strikes?  However, the most people die from extreme heat and cold exposure each year.  They provide the data, you and I must choose to react appropriately.

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