The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

July 12, 2013

Weather alerts shouldn't be ignored

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The Daily Star

---- — 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.

What that flood should do is give us a deep respect for the power of nature, and while another “100-year flood” may not be in the offing any time soon, smaller events can also be deadly.

Don’t assume you’re safe just because you might be living in an area that isn’t normally affected by flooding Every river has its own flood stage, and once it is reached, unusual, and sometimes deadly, flooding may result.

Once the rains have stopped, don’t assume the danger is over in a flooded area. You should always wear protective masks, clothing and gloves. Chemicals, animals, and debris can cause serious illness or injury.

And don’t ignore those weather service warnings, no matter how annoying they might be.