Not to be all sky-is-falling or anything, but the Storm Prediction Center is "forecasting a major severe weather outbreak today and/or tonight."
As I write this, there are 12 tornado warnings and 10 thunderstorm warnings spread out along a line of storms.
From this morning's public weather outlook (and FYI, they seem to only issue these on days where they're predicting widespread, damaging storms):
THE NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER IN NORMAN OK IS FORECASTING THE
DEVELOPMENT OF WIDESPREAD DAMAGING WINDS AND A FEW TORNADOES OVER
PARTS OF THE OHIO AND TENNESSEE VALLEYS AND GREAT LAKES TODAY
THROUGH EARLY WEDNESDAY
THE AREAS MOST LIKELY TO EXPERIENCE THIS ACTIVITY INCLUDE
WESTERN AND CENTRAL OHIO
I've always intended to write some sort of a guide for www.wickedwx.com, detailing what you should do in case you're in an affected area, but for now I'll give these tips:
- get a weather radio and get it programmed for your county. Civil defense sirens (aka tornado sirens) can fail, or so I've heard. TV can be invaluable, but station owners have to deal with the fallout of all of the irate viewers that call in because they aren't affected. The weather radio broadcasts weather information 24/7, so they don't have to worry about what they're cutting into. Get a weather radio and make sure it has SAME which is the technology that allows you to program in your specific county. SAME will help prevent the weather radio from going off for stuff that doesn't affect you.
- if you're going to be outside or traveling from one place to another, check for warnings in nearby counties first. This can be a decent way to check to see if something is headed your way.
- keep an eye on radar. Take this as a general rule, but the most destructive storms are generally not very destructive right near their birth. So the point here is that if you're keeping an eye on the radar fairly frequently, you shouldn't end up being taken by surprise. And in the case of days like today, you may well be able to see the storm coming at you from hundreds of miles away.
If you're in the path
- the general rule of thumb here is to put as much protection between you and the wind as possible. Remember, that it's not the wind itself that's the biggest danger. It's all of the debris it's carrying. If you've got a basement, use it. For even better protection, find something in the basement to get under (like a bed) or put over you, because that will provide extra protection from any debris that might end up in the basement. If you don't have a basement, find an interior room. The goal here is to put as many walls as possible between you and the wind. This often means using an interior bathroom or a closet.
And as I write this now, we're up to 22 active tornado warnings.
Stay safe out there.