As I write this, the Santa Ana winds are shaking the travel trailer about as bad as a 4.0 earthquake. I know that because I’ve been in the trailer when one has hit. I’m also watching the weather across the country. Strong thunderstorms with high winds and tornadoes are making the news. It begs the question…does everyone know what to do?
Types of windstorms: Most of the names are familiar; hurricane, tornado, thunderstorm…even Santa Ana winds are fairly well known. A less well known windstorm is the derecho. All of these have different problems associated with them.
Hurricanes: Depending on your location and the predicted severity one of the best things to do is get out of the storm’s way. There is usually plenty of warning before one makes landfall. If you are staying, prepare your home properly and stock up on necessities. If possible, go to a shelter.
Tornados: These are hard to get away from. Your best line of defense is well thought out preparations. Have a safe room or a storm cellar that is properly constructed. Train your family *and your pets* to get into the prepared area. Keep some supplies there so that when it’s safe to come out you have drinking water, food and medications. Don’t forget to add food and additional water for your pets.
Santa Ana Winds: These winds are rarely a problem in and of themselves…unless you’re driving a high profile vehicle. The biggest threat with these winds is fire. Humidity levels are low, the vegetation is dry and anything can spark a blaze. When the winds are really high, choppers and other aircraft can’t help fight the fire.
Derechos: This phenomenon is challenging to predict. It’s a straight line windstorm that can produce damage similar to that of a tornado. This windstorm can cross several states under the right conditions. The good news is that preparing for a severe thunderstorm will help you be prepared for a derecho. The wind speeds are 70 to 80 mph and there is usually heavy rain and hail involved.
General preparations: This is something everyone should do, no matter where they live. Keep a grab and go bag with important information, phone numbers and necessary medications. Keep a stock of food, water, medications and other necessities for those events that shelter in place. Have a plan that suits the type of problems you’re likely to face and make sure everyone knows it. Don’t forget the pets in all of this.
Being prepared isn’t just a Boy Scout motto. It’s the best way to make sure you and your family is safe. Windstorms will come, and advance preparations on your part could save your life.