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Severe Weather Preparedness Week

March 21, 2016
March 20-26 is Severe Weather Preparedness Week in Indiana.

Severe Weather Terms and Definitions

  • Warning - A weather hazard is imminent or reported and requires immediate action to protect life and property.
  • Watch - Hazardous weather may occur. Watch for information; review safety plans.

  • Severe Thunderstorm - A thunderstorm that produces tornadoes, hail one inch or more in diameter, or winds of 50 knots (58 mph) or more.
    • Slight Risk (of severe thunderstorms) - Scattered severe thunderstorms possible.  Thunderstorms short lived and not widespread. One or two tornadoes possible.
    • Enhanced Risk (of severe thunderstorms) - Numerous severe storms possible. Thunderstorms are more persistent and widespread. A few tornadoes.
    • Moderate Risk (of severe thunderstorms) - Widespread  severe  thunderstorms  likely. Thunderstorms  are  long-lived,  widespread  and  intense. Strong tornadoes. A Tornado Watch will likely be issued.
    • High Risk (of severe thunderstorms) - Widespread severe storms likely. Thunderstorms are long-lived, widespread and particularly intense. Used for a tornado outbreak or Derecho. A high risk is rare, and implies an unusually dangerous situation.



  • Indiana had a record 72 tornadoes in 2011. In 2015, Indiana saw 21 tornadoes while the annual average is 20.
  • Most tornadoes travel northeast. Forward speeds average near 30mph but can reach 60 mph. Other favored directions are from the northwest.
  • Tornadoes occur year round but are most likely from April to June. Primary hours are from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. with a second peak from 12 a.m. to 3 a.m.


Tornado Safety

Go to the basement (if available) or to an interior room on the lowest floor, such as  a closet or bathroom. Wrap yourself in overcoats or blankets to protect yourself.

Go to interior areas on the lowest floor. Stay away from glass and very large rooms. Follow the instructions of the facility safety officials.

Go to interior rooms or halls. Avoid exterior walls or glass.

Most tornado deaths occur in cars and mobile homes. If you have time, leave them for a substantial structure or designated tornado shelter. As last resort, lie flat in your car or nearby ditch and use your hands to cover your head.

Lightning Safety

  • All thunderstorms produce lightning and are dangerous. Lightning kills more people each year than tornadoes.
  • Lightning can strike as far as 10 miles away from any rainfall. Many deaths from lightning occur ahead of the storm because people wait to the last minute before seeking shelter. You are in danger from lightning if you can hear thunder. If you can hear thunder, lightning is close enough that it could strike your location at any moment. Get inside! “When thunder roars go indoors!”
  • Lightning can travel sideways for up to 10 miles.  Even when the sky looks blue and clear, be cautious. If you hear thunder, take cover. At least 10% of lightning occurs without visible clouds overhead in the sky.
  • Inside a building with wiring or plumbing is safest. Inside a hard-topped vehicle is safer than outside but avoid contact with metal or outside parts of the vehicle.
  • If you can't get to a shelter, stay away from trees or open areas where you may be the tallest object.
  • Avoid metal! Avoid leaning against vehicles. Get off bicycles and motorcycles. Don't hold on to metal items such golf clubs, fishing rods, tennis rackets or tools.
  • Get out of the water, it's a great conductor of electricity.  Don't stand in puddles of water, even if wearing rubber boots.
  • Move away from a group of people. Stay several yards away from other people. Don't share a bleacher bench or huddle in a group.


Information provided by The National Weather Service.