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Severe Weather

Severe Weather is described as a meteorological phenomena with the potential to cause property damage, social disruption or loss of life. Severe weather includes strong thunderstorms, lightning, hail, flooding, and tornado events.

Thunderstorms and Lightning
Thunderstorms occur from the rapid upward movement of warm, moist air colliding with cooler air masses. Thunderstorms have the capability to produce straight line winds, large hail, flash floods, and even tornadoes. The National Weather Service classifies a thunderstorm as severe when winds reach or exceed 58 miles per hour, surface hail reaches one inch or greater, or a tornado has formed.
Lightning Storm
Lightning is present in all thunderstorms from the buildup and discharge of electrical energy between positively and negatively charged areas. A cloud-to-ground lightning strike begins as an invisible channel of electrically charged air moving from the cloud towards the ground. When one channel nears an object on the ground, a powerful surge of electricity from the ground moves upwards to the cloud and produces a visible lightning strike. The rapid heating and cooling of the air near the channel causes a shock wave, which produces thunder.

Lightning damage can result in electrocution of humans and animals; vaporization of materials along the path of the strike; fire caused by the high temperature produced by the strike; and a sudden power surge that can damage electrical and electronic equipment. Millions of dollars of direct and indirect damages result from lightning strikes on electric utility substations and distribution lines. While property damage is the major hazard associated with lightning, it should be noted that lightning strikes kill nearly 100 people each year in the United States.

Hail
Hail is Hail Stonescreated in severe thunderstorms and tornadic storms. It is produced by updrafts in a storm carrying water droplets to a height in the clouds where freezing occurs. The ice particles grow as they are dropped and picked up again, adding layers of ice to the initial droplet. The hail stone eventually becomes too heavy for the updraft to support and tumbles to the ground. When hail occurs with a diameter of 0.75 inches or greater, it is considered severe.

Hail occurs during severe thunderstorms, so look and listen for warning information about these storms. Large hail is often observed immediately north of a tornado, however the presence of hail doesn’t indicate a tornado and the absence of hail does not indicate there is no risk from tornadoes.


Flooding
Flooding and flash flooding is the most common hazard in North Central Texas and causes billions of dollars in damage each year. Flooding can result from hurricane remnants, broken levees, outdated or clogged drainage systems, rapid accumulation of rainfall, and when levees or spillways are intentionally opened to alleviate the impact of a flood event. River and lake flooding is a long term event that may last a weekFlooded Car or more, while flash flooding is a short term event usually occurring within a few minutes and up to a few hours of excess rainfall or dam/levee failure.

Flood risks are categorized as high-risk areas (Special Flood Hazard Area), moderate-to-low risk areas (Non-Special Flood Hazard Area), and undetermined-risk areas. Flood maps, known as Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) have been created to display these risks. The National Flood Insurance Program was created in 1968 by Congress to help provide a means for individuals to protect themselves financially, since most homeowner's insurance does not cover flooding.

More people die from flooding than any other severe weather related hazard. It only takes six inches of fast-moving floodwater to knock over an adult and two feet to carry away most vehicles, including pickups and SUVs. The moment a flash-flood warning is issued for your area, follow this simple advice: Turn Around, Don’t Drown!

Tornado
A tornado is a violent, rotating column of air, in contact with the ground and a storm cloud and often (but not always) is visible as a funnel cloud, with swirling dust and debris at the ground level. Tornadoes are the most violent natuTornadoral storm and may cause widespread damage and destruction in a matter of minutes. Wind speeds within a tornado range from a low of 65 miles per hour to over 300 miles per hour.

North Central Texas is included in the Tornado Alley which stretches across the plains states. Peak tornado season occurs during the spring and summer months, however tornadoes may occur at any time of the year. Tornadoes occur with little or no warning and the funnel may appear translucent until dust and debris are carried within the funnel.

Remain alert for tornadoes during severe weather episodes and be prepared to take shelter, remembering Go Low, Get Low! Seek shelter in the lowest floor of your home or business in an interior room. Bathrooms and interior closets with no outside walls or windows are the first choice for shelter. Get low, crouch close to the floor on your stomach and use your hands and arms to protect your head.