East Penn Press

Monday, February 24, 2020

Another View

Wednesday, April 3, 2019 by The Press in Opinion

As the saying goes, ‘April showers bring May flowers’

Not only do April showers give life to flowers, they also bring a host of hazards and concerns. Spring weather can be unpredictable. The temperatures swing back and forth between cool and hot.

Mark Twain once said, “In the spring, I have counted 136 kinds of weather inside of four and twenty hours.”

We all are familiar with the usual temperature-shift issues. You leave the house with a sweater on to protect against the morning chill, but by 2 p.m., you are sweating. A few hours after taking the sweater off, the temperature drops back down to 40 degrees. Don’t even get me started with allergy season. This is the spring weather we’re accustomed to. Inconvenient, yes — but not dangerous.

However, there is an additional risk associated with the constant shifting in temperatures. This shift can cause thunderstorms. When warm, moist air collides with cool, dry air, thunderstorms can occur.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports thunderstorms are the cause of the most severe elements of spring weather. These storms can bring lightning, flooding, hail and even tornadoes. There are often power outages due to high winds or other storm conditions.

According to the National Weather Service, “Over 280 fatalities occur each year in the U.S. from thunderstorm-related hazards.”

The best way to keep safe in these weather conditions is to be prepared and to pay attention to weather forecasts.

The CDC states, “Planning ahead makes sense. Prepare for storms, floods and tornadoes as if you know in advance they are coming because in the spring, they very likely will.”

The CDC recommends keeping an emergency kit handy in case of such a weather emergency. Things to keep in the kit include a battery-operated flashlight and weather radio with backup batteries, an emergency evacuation or shelter plan and a list of important information such as emergency contacts, insurance and medical information, telephone numbers of utility companies, etc.

A first-aid kit is also recommended. The American Red Cross suggests stocking an assortment of bandages, antibiotic ointment, gauze pads, scissors, tweezers, aspirin, adhesive cloth tape and nonlatex gloves, among other things.

Other beneficial items to have handy in case of an emergency include blankets or sleeping bags, personal hygiene items and a supply of bottled water and nonperishable food.

The CDC recommends discussing emergency plans with family members to be sure everyone is on the same page. Make sure family members know where the emergency supplies are stored and how to turn off the water, gas and electricity in your home.

“We do know that when spring arrives, thunderstorms, tornadoes and floods are real possibilities. So why not take the surprise factor out of severe weather and prepare yourself, your family and your home,” the CDC notes.

The NWS has several infographics and presentations to help inform the public about potential dangers. For more information, visit weather.gov/wrn/spring-safety.

Even the Department of Homeland Security does not ignore the dangers of thunderstorms and other unsteady spring weather conditions. There is a page dedicated to the dangers of thunderstorms and lightning. It is filled with tips to recognize dangerous situations and the best ways to remain safe.

“If thunder roars, go indoors,” advises the DHS at ready.gov/thunderstorms-lightning. The page also has sections of how to “prepare now,” “survive during” and “be safe after.”

Personally, I have always enjoyed watching thunderstorms. I used to sit outside on the porch and watch the storm roll in. As interesting as they might be, we cannot downplay the dangers these storms possess or underestimate their power.

According to the Farmers’ Almanac 2019 predictions, the weather will remain cool or cold through April. With a few 70-degree days thrown in the mix, things could get wet and stormy.

I wouldn’t pack away the sweaters just yet.

Samantha Anderson

editorial assistant

Whitehall-Coplay Press

Northampton Press

Catasauqua Press