ALBANY, N. Y. -- Over the last 20 years, severe weather in New York State has killed nearly 50 people and caused more than 250 million dollars in damage. On average, the NWS in Albany issues an average of 162 severe thunderstorm warnings per year along with 33 flash flood warnings and 4 tornado warnings. This is why it's important to understand severe weather and plan accordingly.
A severe thunderstorm is one that has winds greater than 58mph, and/or hail an inch in diameter or greater. However, lightning and flash flooding can also be dangerous consequences of severe storms.
Plan now! Develop a plan for you and your family at home, school, work, and outdoors. Conduct frequent drills and know the difference between a watch (conditions are favorable for severe weather) and a warning (a severe storm/tornado is imminent or occuring).
For a severe thunderstorm, "when thunder roars, go indoors." Head toward a sturdy building or car. Stay away from tall objects like towers, isolated trees, or telephone poles. If you're out on the water boating or swimming, head to land and seek shelter immediately.
For a tornado warning, head indoors and go to the basement or interior room on the lowest level of the house. Get under something sturdy or cover yourself with a mattress. A vehicle or mobile home is not a substantial structure in the event of a tornado.
For flash flooding, "turn around, don't drown." If water is covering the roadway, don't try to drive through it. It is difficult to tell just by looking how deep the water is. It only takes 6" of fast-moving water to knock you off your feet, and 2' of it to move any car, SUV, or pick-up. Know evacuation routes and flood plains.
If you follow these tips along with common sense, you should have no problem keeping you and your family safe during severe weather season.