(WJHL) – This week is Severe Weather Awareness Week, which is conducted by the National Weather Service. The goal of this week is to bring help people prepare for severe weather season, which begins around this time of year.
Monday’s topic is “Severe Thunderstorms and the Devastating Effects of Severe Storms”.
So let’s start with the basics – what is a severe thunderstorm? The National Weather Service defines a severe thunderstorm as a thunderstorm with at least one of the following: 1) winds of 58 mph or greater, 2) 1” diameter hail or larger, or 3) a tornado.
To prepare for storms, the National Weather Service will issue a Severe Thunderstorm Watch, or sometimes a Tornado Watch if conditions are favorable for tornadic activity.
These watches mean that severe thunderstorms are possible due to favorable atmospheric conditions, and that you should have a safety plan ready in case severe weather occurs.
If a severe thunderstorm forms, Severe Thunderstorm Warnings will be issued. Tornado Warnings are issued when Doppler Radar indicates rotation within a thunderstorm, or when a tornado is confirmed to be on the ground by a spotter. When warnings are issued, that means severe weather is imminent and you should enact your safety plan.
Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia are no strangers to severe weather. Many people immediately think of the April 2011 tornado outbreak when severe weather is brought up. While this is an extreme example, the weather that day shows the power that severe weather can bring and why you should be prepared.