July is the top month for severe weatherSevere weather is the most likely in July, officials said. In fact, the National Weather Service is predicting a 20 percent chance of severe weather here on Thursday. So prepare your homes in the event of all storms, especially tornadoes, officials said.
By: By Katie Ryan-Anderson, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
Severe weather is the most likely in July, officials said. In fact, the National Weather Service is predicting a 20 percent chance of severe weather here on Thursday.
So prepare your homes in the event of all storms, especially tornadoes, officials said.
Tornadoes are capable of destroying well-made structures, uprooting trees and hurling objects through the air. They are most common in the Plains States, according to the American Red Cross.
The strongest tornado in the state occurred on Aug. 11, 2002, in Medina, said Jerry Bergquist, Stutsman County emergency manager. The storm destroyed one home, Bergquist said. But the grandparents and two grandchildren inside had taken shelter in the basement. All four survived the F4 storm.
The National Weather Service has since changed the way it categorizes the severity of tornadoes but, at the time, it meant wind speeds exceeded 207 miles per hour, Bergquist said.
The most recent “killer tornado” in North Dakota, according to the National Weather Service, occurred on Aug. 26, 2007, in Grand Forks County. One person died when a tornado touched down in Northwood, N.D. Deadly tornadoes also made headlines recently, striking Joplin, Mo., and also Minneapolis on May 22.
Prepare for the event of a tornado now, said Beth Dewald, executive director of the Buffalo Valley Chapter. Waiting for the sirens to sound does not allow for enough time, she said.
“The wind, the rain, the hail do mysterious things,” Dewald said.
Most people know to seek shelter in a basement or the most interior room without windows, but not everyone knows the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning, Dewald said. A warning is the more serious of the two, meaning take shelter immediately because a tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. A tornado watch means tornadoes are possible in the watch area.
Area residents also may not know to find the lowest lying area if driving in an open area or taking shelter at the Law Enforcement Center, 205 Sixth St. S.E., in Jamestown.
Dewald suggested families practice where to go and what to do in the event of a tornado warning.
“It’s (tornado drills are) important in school and it’s important at work, but why aren’t our families important?” she said.
Dewald said some people wait for the tornado sirens to take shelter, but sirens weren’t designed to be heard indoors, so people asleep at home may not hear them. Officials recommend purchasing an all-hazard radio with S.A.M.E. technology and battery back-up (about $30-$70). Dewald also said families should prepare a kit with clothes appropriate for the weather, water (1 gallon per person per day for at least three days), medical supplies, baby supplies, pet supplies, games and activities, extra keys to house and car and tennis shoes.
“Most of it is stuff you already have around the house except that it’s in numerous locations,” Dewald said.
North Dakota is not in Tornado Alley, but 54 twisters touched down in the state last year. Two of them hit Stutsman County, according to Richard Kinney, senior forecaster for the National Weather Service. In fact, from 1950 to 2008, Cass County reported the most tornadoes with 82, while Stutsman County came in second with 48. The county with the fewest tornadoes was Billings with 6, National Weather Service said.
July — with its typically humid, hot and unstable weather — is the most common time for tornadoes to strike.
“July tends to be about our most active month in terms of severe weather,” Kinney said.
None have touched down in Stutsman County so far this year, but that doesn’t mean residents should get complacent, he said.
“We don’t want folks to get lulled into a false sense of security,” he said.
For more information on how to prepare for a tornado, visit redcross.org or contact the local Buffalo Valley American Red Cross chapter at 252-3550.
What to do
In the event of a tornado or other severe weather:
* Identify place to take shelter. Mobile homes are the most vulnerable.
* Build a kit
* Tune into local media instead of calling 9-1-1 or law enforcement center.
Families should also make preparations for after the disaster:
* pick two places to meet — one outside the house and one outside the neighborhood
* identify a family check-in person to call in case of separation
Sources: Jerry Bergquist, Stutsman County emergency manager, and American Red Cross.
Sun reporter Katie Ryan-Anderson can be reached at 701-952-8454 or by e-mail at email@example.com