Tornados can happen at any time of the year in Texas but happen most often during Spring and Summer. Tornado spawning storms are most likely to happen in the late afternoon and early evening hours. The official Hurricane season is June 1st through November 30th though hurricanes have occurred outside of this time frame.
A Tornado Watch is issued when severe weather is expected along with large or multiple tornados. A tornado Watch means WATCH the sky. A Tornado Warning means take action, seek shelter immediately – a tornado is on the ground . A Tornado Warning is generally issued for only one county or a portion of a county and generally last for an hour or less.
A Hurricane Watch is issued for coastal communities when hurricane conditions are expected within 36 hours and a Hurricane Warning is issued when sustained winds of 74 mph or greater are expected within the next 24 hours. Although the Hurricane Watch and Warning deal mainly with coastal areas, gale force winds from hurricanes often extend hundreds of miles inland. It is important to know a hurricane has the potential to cause significant damage right here in Guadalupe County. In addition, almost all hurricanes spawn tornados – in 2004 Hurricane Ivan spawned 127 tornados and Hurricane Beulah, spawned a reported 115 tornadoes in southeast Texas during the first several days after its landfall in September 1967.
When a Tornado Watch is issued or when high winds from a hurricane are expected it is important seek shelter from the high winds and flying debris.
Seek shelter in an interior room on the lowest floor in the building. Small rooms without windows, such as closets, bathrooms, and hallways provide the best shelter.
If you are in a manufactured home or office, leave it and seek shelter in a nearby building. If a building is not available lie flat in a ditch or ravine.
Never stay in or under a car. Once again, leave it and seek shelter in a nearby building. If a building is not available lie flat in a ditch or ravine. Never try to outrun a tornado in your car.
At school, go to the designated shelter area. Avoid auditoriums and gymnasiums or other rooms with a wide free span roof.
If you are in a shopping center seek shelter in hallways and interior rooms away from exterior windows. Do not leave the shopping center to get in your car.
If you are in open country, seek shelter in low protected ground.
Monitor TV and radio broadcasts for storm information as well as NOAA weather radio broadcasts.
Drought and Fire Weather
Drought is not simply low rainfall because total rainfall amounts vary greatly from region to region. Drought is a prolonged negative variance from normal amounts of rainfall. Texas is known for experiencing drought conditions on a regular basis. Along with the drought conditions comes Fire Weather - weather conditions which make the start and spread of wildfire more likely. Take the following steps to increase your wildfire preparedness:
Keep the area up to 30 feet from your house, out buildings, oil wells, and hay storage free of brush, tall grass, or dead wood. Trim regularly.
Keep hoses with nozzles connected outside.
If you have a fireplace, have your chimney cleaned and inspected at least annually by a professional. Get a chimney cap.
Trim vegetation around electric fences.
Make sure spark arrestors are in place on all machinery.
Do not allow machinery to idle in tall grass.
Have fire extinguishers in your home and in your car, and know how to use them. Keep a fire extinguisher with you when operating farm equipment.
Exercise extreme caution when burning debris. Make sure you know and practice safe burning techniques.
Have a water source and/or large fire extinguisher nearby when welding.
Install smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors in your house. Change the batteries twice a year. Test them monthly.
Flash Floods are the number one weather-related killer across the United States. Flash Flooding occurs as a result of an intense storm dropping large amounts of rain within a relatively short period. Unfortunately, Texas holds 6 of the top 12 world record short duration rainfalls. These floods can happen "in a flash" with little or no warning and the flood waters in rivers, streams, and dry creeks can reach flood stage in only a few minutes.
In addition to Flash Flooding, Guadalupe County is also susceptible to Localized Flooding. Because the topography of our county is so flat we do not have an abundance of natural drainage and water tends to collect in low lying areas. While not as life threatening as flash flooding, localized flood still presents a significant danger and can leave residents stranded in the upper levels of their homes or on small islands of land surrounded by flood waters.
Because our area is so susceptible to both flash floods and localized flooding it is important to always be prepared.
Types of Flood Warnings:
Flash Flood Watch - Indicates that flash flooding is a possibility within the designated watch area.
Urban and Small Stream Advisory - Flooding of small streams, streets, and low-lying areas is occurring.
Flash Flood Warning - Flash flooding has been reported or is imminent. Take necessary precautions at once.
Flooding Safety Tips:
Stay informed. Know where the areas prone to flooding in your area are.
Monitor local media and NOAA weather radio during heavy rain events.
Head for higher ground and stay away from flood waters when you hear the following warnings on the television or radio.
Never attempt to drive into a low water crossing no matter how shallow you think it is.
Turn off all utilities at the main power switch and close the main gas valve if evacuation appears necessary.
Move valuables, such as papers, furs, jewelry, and clothing to upper floors or higher elevations.
Bring outdoor possessions, such as lawn furniture, grills, and trash cans inside, or tie them down securely.
Do not go near downed power lines and electrical wires. Electrocution is another major source of deaths in floods.
Evacuate your house if instructed to do so. Follow emergency instructions. It is much safer and easier to evacuate before flood waters become too deep.
If the waters start to rise inside your house before you have evacuated, retreat to the second floor, attic, or roof. Take dry clothing, a flashlight, and a portable radio with you. Then, wait for help. Don't try to swim to safety; wait for rescuers to come to you.
Low Water Crossings
Flooding is the number one weather-related killer across the United States. In Texas the death toll from floods averages 15 victims per year – five times the national average. While estimates vary, at least 50% - 75% of these deaths are vehicle related and are avoidable. More people drown in cars than anywhere else. The majority of the victims are males according to the National Weather Service.
It is important people learn the dangers of driving into flooded roadways because drivers underestimate the power of flood water.
As little as six inches of moving water will easily knock you off your feet and will reach the bottom of most passenger cars causing loss of control or stalling.
Twelve inches of water will float many cars
Two feet of water carry off pickups, SUVs, and almost all other vehicles.
More and more automobiles are coming with electric windows and door locks which will short out when submerged in water potential trapping the victim in the vehicle.
If your car stalls or gets stuck in the water it may then get pushed off the road. Once off the road, cars often start to roll, making escape impossible.
Water across a road may hide a missing portion of a bridge or washed out roadway.
Floodwaters can damage or weaken roads making the dangerous even after the water has receded and the roadway may collapse under the weight of the vehicle.
Saving your life is as simple as choosing a different route: Turn around, don’t drown.
This year's Chamber of Commerce “Leadership Seguin” class will be raising money to install gates at many of the low water crossings in Seguin and Guadalupe County as their community service project. If you would like more information on their project or would like to contribute toward the cause, please contact the Seguin Chamber of Commerce at 830-379-6382.