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  • Writer's pictureEFPD

Tips to Stay Safe During Spring and Summer Storm Season


On March 14, the Eureka area heard its first tornado sirens, as severe weather surged through the region. Know what to do when severe weather hits home. The Eureka Fire Protection District offers tips and information on what to do when tornadoes and severe thunderstorms hit the Eureka area.


Table of Contents:

Missouri Weather in Spring and Summer

Severe Thunderstorm Safety Tips

  • Driving in Severe Weather

  • Severe Thunderstorm Watch

  • Severe Thunderstorm Warning

What Are the Warning Signs of a Tornado?

  • Tornado Warning vs. Watch

  • When Does Tornado Season Start?

  • Types of Tornadoes

  • What Is Tornado Alley?

  • What States Are in Tornado Alley?


Synopsis:

Missouri's spring and summer weather brings volatility. Severe thunderstorms and tornadoes are common across the state. Seeking shelter and preparing for severe weather helps individuals stay safe. 


Missouri Weather in Spring and Summer

Missouri typically has mild to warm weather in spring and bursts of extremely hot weather in summer. The climate also bounces from cooler temperatures to sudden warmth, and this shift leads to severe weather (including thunderstorms and tornadoes). 


As Missouri's weather is slightly unpredictable, severe weather during winter months isn't uncommon. Missouri has experienced winter tornadoes when the weather suddenly warms and cools. 


Severe Thunderstorm Safety Tips

When severe weather hits Eureka and the St. Louis Metro area, knowing how to stay safe during storms is crucial. Severe thunderstorms produce strong winds, heavy rain, and hail. Here's what to do during a severe thunderstorm. 


Driving in Severe Weather

A severe thunderstorm can develop quickly. Downpours often take drivers by surprise, but it's important to stay calm and act rationally on the road. During heavy rain, slow down and turn on your headlights. Be mindful of the taillights of other cars ahead of you. Often, drivers use tail lights to navigate the road when heavy rains minimize visibility.


Large hail is common during severe storms. The balls of hail can seriously damage cars and property, and they could bust through the windshield. When drivers are caught in hail storms, pull over when it's safe. Driving in hail can lead to more damage as the car's speed collides with the falling hail. Never pull over in a dangerous area; drive slow, leave extra distance between other drivers, and find a safe turnoff or shoulder. 

Remember that cars' tires protect against lightning conduction. If you're in the car, you're safe.


Not Driving? Seek Shelter

When severe storms strike, individuals need to take shelter. At home, go to the basement or stay in an interior room away from windows. When individuals are at a store, an event, or a venue, don't try to venture out. Stay put and wait out the storm.


Severe Thunderstorm Watch

The National Weather Service releases a severe thunderstorm when conditions are right for a severe thunderstorm to develop. A watch means that meteorologists are watching out for storms. 


When a "watch" is issued, understand that severe weather is possible. Be safe and prepare to take action if necessary. 


Severe Thunderstorm Warning

A severe thunderstorm warning means that a storm is approaching. When a warning is issued, take action immediately. Seek shelter, stay away from windows, and don't venture out. Drivers should prepare for weather conditions to become dangerous and plan to find a safe place to wait out the storm (if they are far from home). 


What Are the Warning Signs of a Tornado?

For individuals who are away from home and don't have access to a radio or emergency alerts, it's important to keep an eye on the sky. What are the warning signs of a tornado? 


These are potential signs of an impending twister:


  • Green skies

  • Swirling clouds (rotation)

  • Sudden temperature shift

  • A visible funnel cloud (a funnel doesn't always touch the ground)

  • Wall cloud

Tornado Watch vs. Warning

Dangerous severe weather can lead to the development of a tornado. However, severe weather and tornadoes can develop quickly when the weather shifts dramatically. 

Meteorologists issue tornado warnings and tornado watches to alert the public. How do these alerts differ, and what do they mean?


When meteorologists issue a tornado watch, conditions are right for a tornado to develop. A watch indicates that meteorologists are looking for the development of funnel clouds and other indices of tornado activity.


A tornado warning, however, is extremely serious. A warning means a tornado has been spotted on radar in an area. Storm spotters also might have reported that a tornado touched down.


When a warning is issued, a tornado siren is activated. Seek shelter in an interior room or basement immediately!


When Does Tornado Season Start?

In Missouri, mild spring weather is the ideal time for developing tornadoes. However, tornado activity is not isolated to only spring in Missouri. Tornadoes have been reported as early as December (2021). On February 27, 2023, three tornadoes touched down, marking a very early start to last year's tornado season. 


The Springfield News-Leader reported that 23 tornadoes touched down in Missouri in 2023; however, 61 tornadoes touched down in the state in 2021. 


On May 22, 2011, one of the deadliest tornadoes in Missouri's history touched down in Joplin. The EF5 tornado led to $2.8 billion in damages and resulted in 1,150 injuries and 158 fatalities.


Types of Tornadoes

Tornado severity is categorized by the Enhanced Fujita (EF) Scale, which ranges from 0 to 5. An EF5 tornado has three-second wind gusts of more than 200 mph. Winds associated with an EF0 tornado are between 65 and 85 mph. 


What Is Tornado Alley?

Tornado Alley is the nickname given to an area of the United States where tornadoes commonly form. The "alley" runs north and south, encompassing several midwestern states. 


What States Are in Tornado Alley?

Tornado Alley includes many states, although only a small portion of a state might be in this alley. According to Britannica, only four states are part of Tornado Alley: 


  • Texas

  • Oklahoma

  • Kansas 

  • Nebraska


Other sources widen Tornado Alley to include parts of northwestern Missouri, western Iowa, and parts of South Dakota. 


Stay Safe and Get Prepared for Severe Weather This Spring

The official start of spring is only a few weeks away, but Missouri weather can turn severe quickly. EFPD urges everyone to  prepare for potential severe weather and develop a strategy if and when severe weather strikes. Stay safe this spring, and pay attention to weather alerts, watches, and warnings.


About the Author:

Eureka Fire Protection District is an EMS, Fire, and Rescue service provider located in Eureka, Missouri. Staffed with nearly one hundred volunteer and career Paramedics, EMTs, Firefighters, Junior Firefighters, and administrative teams, the department provides its local community with fire prevention, education, safety resources, and emergency relief. Eureka Fire Protection District maintains a reputation as a well-run, high-performing fire department by keeping up to date with the latest in life-saving training and technology.


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