MARSHALL COUNTY, Ala. – As the sun goes down, and severe thunderstorms move in, conditions can become a lot more dangerous. Night time storms can be especially deadly.
We asked National Weather Service Meteorologist Jennifer Saari why.
“You can’t see anything in order to spot the tornado, and you really are not as paying attention as much as you would during the daytime,” she said.
When nighttime storms are in the forecast, weather experts say you should take extra precautions to be weather aware.
What’s what Blount County resident Josh Bell does.
“These nighttime storms are just crazy,” he said. “Usually I’ll stay up, I can’t go to sleep knowing there’s going to be storms coming.”
Bell came to a storm spotter class at the Marshall County Emergency Management Agency Thursday to refresh himself on weather information, and to allow his family the chance to stay safe.
“I want to keep my family safe,” he said, “and I want to know what I can do.”
He said he lives in a mobile home without a lot of safe places, like community shelters, to go to be safe from storms. That’s why being vigilant is important for them.
“My uncle has a shelter. We can get to it, but sometimes it’s too late.” He added, “I want to know where to go, and when to go. You always hear, respect that polygon. But I want to learn… and make sure I know what I’m looking for.”
Meteorologists say there are 4 things you should do when storms are forecast during the night.
- Have more than one way to receive an alert in place: “And make sure that sound is on,” Saari said. “You want it to wake you up. Have your cell phone turned on, have your weather radio turned on, and ready to wake you up if you do need to enact your action plan.”
- Watch the weather before you to go to bed: “Keep an eye on the weather throughout the day, especially before you go to bed,” Saari stated. “Make sure you know what to expect during the overnight hours.”
- Know your surroundings: “Know where you are within a city, in a county, near landmarks, so if you hear a report saying that large hail or a destructive storm is heading toward this location or landmark, you are able to know right away this is going to impact me.” Saari said this is especially important if you’re traveling, or taking a weekend trip, and you’re unfamiliar with your location. “Know what’s coming and where you are relative to the storm.”
- Get your supplies ready to go: “Having your supply kit, your emergency kit, is important to have ready in advance so you can grab it and go. Don’t forget about pets as well. You need information for them, food, and even things like crayons and coloring books for kids while you are sheltering,” Saari explained. “It’s important to really go through that and refresh it every year.”
Experts urge you to pay attention to warnings, even severe thunderstorm warnings.
“Take severe thunderstorm warnings just as seriously as a tornado warning because they can still do a lot of damage,” she explained. “You really need to be on top of it, because even straight-line winds can roll over mobile homes, really cause additional damage. It doesn’t have to be a tornado to cause damage. It’s important to get inside, stay away from windows, and keep an eye on the weather so you can be prepared.”
She said it is good to treat severe thunderstorm warnings as seriously as tornado warnings.