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Editorials

July 12, 2013

Weather alerts shouldn't be ignored

It is as familiar as it is annoying.

You’re sitting at home watching television. Just as the program reaches its climax you hear an incredibly discordant blaring sound followed by a scrawl of information at the top of the screen. Then you hear a robotic voice that seems to be modeled on a bad 1950s science-fiction movie. 

“THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN BINGHAMTON HAS ISSUED A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING FOR THE FOLLOWING COUNTIES ...”

The crawling interruption — which could also have been for a flash flood warning or watch — seems to go on forever, and is likely to be repeated, substituting for the audio of the show you were watching. It may not even be for the county you are occupying, but then again, maybe it is.

If it is, we urge you not to ignore it.

This time of year, we seem to have a severe weather watch almost every day. Sometimes, we’ll get a warning as well. A watch means conditions exist that could lead to dangerous weather. “Watch” means “watch out” for weather conditions that may eventuate.

A warning means dangerous weather is an immediate threat to the area and is likely occurring.

A flash flood can happen with blinding speed. Floods kill more people every year than hurricanes, tornadoes or lightning, and 60 percent of all flood deaths occur when water sweeps away occupied vehicles.

If you’re driving on our country roads and you can’t see the bottom of a puddle, don’t drive into it. Water can obscure a washed-out road. Standing water only two or three feet deep is enough to float your car away, and six inches of moving water can carry off a small car.

The memories of the massive flood of 2006 are still fresh. Almost unimaginable damage was done to so many of our towns and villages, and so many people are still recovering from that horrifying June occurrence.

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