AUSTIN, TX -- Hurricanes are not merely coastal events or wind events. Inland flooding, tornadoes, downed trees and power lines are all potential hazards that could be caused by hurricanes. Important points to remember about each condition are as follows:
Intense rainfall is not directly related to the wind speed of tropical cyclones. In fact, some of the greatest rainfall amounts occur from weaker storms that drift slowly or stall over an area. A tropical storm can produce more rainfall than a Category 5 hurricane. As all hurricanes weaken to tropical storms and move inland, the threat of torrential rains and high winds over large areas intensify the risks of flooding.
While storm surge is always a potential coastal threat associated with hurricanes, more people died from inland flooding over the past 30-plus years. Since the early 1970s, freshwater flooding has accounted for more than half (59%) of U.S. tropical cyclone deaths.
These floods are why 63% of U.S. tropical cyclone deaths during that period occurred in inland counties. 78% of children killed by tropical cyclones drowned in freshwater floods.
Tornadoes are nature's most violent storms, with whirling winds that can reach 300 mph. Spawned from powerful thunderstorms, damage paths can be in excess of one mile wide and 50 miles long.
Know the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning.
Tornado Watch - Tornadoes are possible. Remain alert for approaching storms. Heed media updates and warnings.
Tornado Warning - A tornado has been sited or indicated by weather radar. Take shelter immediately.
During a Tornado Watch
- Listen to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio or commercial media for updates.
- Be alert for an approaching storm, particularly a revolving funnel-shaped cloud. Other tornado danger signs include a dark, almost greenish sky; large hail; a large, dark, low-lying cloud; or a loud roar, similar to a freight train.
- Be warned that sometimes tornadoes develop so rapidly; there is no visible advance warning.
- Avoid places with wide-span roofs such as an auditorium, cafeteria, supermarket or shopping mall.
- Be prepared to take shelter immediately. Gather household members, pets and disaster supplies.
During a Tornado Warning
- In a home/house or small building, move to a pre-designated shelter, such as a basement or storm cellar. If there is none, go to an interior room on the lower level like a closet, interior hallway. Put as many walls as possible between you and the outside. Get under a sturdy table and use your arms to cover your head and neck.
- Do not open windows. Use the time to seek shelter.
- Go to the center of the room, avoiding the corners, which attract debris.
- In large public buildings, go to predetermined shelter areas. Interior hallways on the lowest floor are usually safest. Stay away from windows and open spaces.
- In a high-rise building, go to a small interior room or hallway on the lowest possible floor.
- Get out of vehicles, trailers and mobile homes immediately and go to the lowest floor of a sturdy nearby building. Never try to outrun a tornado in a congested area.
- If caught outside with no shelter, lie flat in a nearby ditch or depression and cover your head with your hands. Be aware of the potential of flooding.
- Do not go under a bridge or overpass. You are safer in a low, flat location.
- Watch out for flying debris from tornadoes, the cause of most fatalities and injuries.
After a Tornado