Severe Weather Awareness Week: Staying ahead of Mother Nature

By Erika Mahoney

April 28, 2014 Updated Apr 28, 2014 at 6:34 PM EDT

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) This week is Severe Weather Awareness Week. Over the past 20 years, severe weather has caused the deaths of nearly 50 people and that figure does not include deaths due to flooding.

During spring and summer, blue skies can turn ominous in minutes. Currently, there is a deadly tornado outbreak happening in Arkansas and Oklahoma.

"The important thing in severe thunderstorm and tornado season is, you can't have your eyes be the only notice that something is coming,” said Meterologist Mark Pellerito.

In this day and age, you can track storms and follow radars on smart phones, but the NOAA weather radio is about the most important tool you can have when it comes to advanced notice of severe storms. The radio is especially helpful during the night, when your TV probably isn't on. Also, it's battery powered; even if the power is out, they will still work.

"If your weather radio goes off, that's where you have your plan,” said Mike Nadolski, the observation program manager.  “Do you go down to the basement, the lowest part of your house, or if you don't have a basement, then you go to an interior room like a bathroom or a closet."

Governor Andrew Cuomo says that New Yorkers should prepare now to take appropriate steps before a severe weather event. There are four basic steps to preparedness that Cuomo’s office recommends:

1. Make a Plan: Develop a plan for you and your family at home, school, work and outdoors. Identify a safe place to take shelter and know what actions to take when a warning is issued.

2. Prepare a Kit: Emergency supplies should last 7-10 days and include flashlights, a weather radio, and extra batteries. A weather radio is one of the best ways to be aware of dangerous weather – it will receive broadcasts directly from the National Weather Service. Make sure you have a kit for your home and your car. Plan for any medical needs (e.g., medicine) that your family may have, and make sure you keep and maintain emergency supplies for any family pets.

3. Be Informed: Stay tuned to TV and radio stations that broadcast Emergency Alert System (EAS) messages, and follow local emergency orders when issued. You can also receive emergency information via your computer or cell phone by subscribing to NY Alert at www.nyalert.gov, a free service that provides you with critical emergency information when you need it most.

4. Get Involved: Consider a visit to your local emergency management office to learn more about how to protect you and your family. Consider volunteering with organizations such as the American Red Cross, New York Cares, or the Salvation Army.

On average in New York, the National Weather Service issues 400 severe thunderstorm warnings and about 17 tornado warnings each year.

Keep in mind lightning is the biggest killer.

For safety tips on what do when lightning strikes, click here. You'll also find more information about Severe Weather Awareness Week, which runs until May 3.

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