Severe Weather Preparedness & Resources
Berks County is vulnerable to a wide variety of weather hazards, all of which need to be considered when preparing and planning for severe weather incidents. Listed below are a number of links and resources for severe weather preparedness.
National Weather Service Mount Holly, NJ (Covers Berks County)
National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center
National Weather Service Mid-Atlantic River Forecast Center
National Hurricane Center
US Geological Survey - Stream Gauges
US Geological Survey - Earthquake Map
Winter storms create a higher risk of car accidents, hypothermia, frostbite, carbon monoxide poisoning, and heart attacks from overexertion. Winter storms and blizzards can bring extreme cold, freezing rain, snow, ice, and high winds. A winter storm can:
- Last a few hours or several days;
- Knock out heat, power, and communication services; and
- Place older adults, young children, and sick individuals at greater risk.
If your community is under a winter storm warning, find shelter right away:
- Stay off the roads;
- Stay indoors and dress warmly;
- Prepare for power outages;
- Use generators outside only and away from windows;
- Listen for emergency information and alerts;
- Look for signs of hypothermia and frostbite; and
- Check on neighbors.
Failing to evacuate a flooded area, entering flood waters, or remaining after a flood has passed can result in injury or death. Flooding is a temporary overflow of water onto land that is normally dry. Floods are the most common natural disaster in the United States. Floods may:
- Result from rain, snow, and overflows of dams and other water systems;
- Develop slowly or quickly. Flash flooding can come with no warning; and
- Cause outages, disrupt transportation, damage buildings, and create landslides.
If your community is under a flood warning:
- Do not walk, swim, or drive through flood waters; Just six inches of moving water can knock you down, and one foot of moving water can sweep your vehicle away;
- Stay off bridges over fast-moving water; and
- Determine how best to protect yourself based on the type of flooding; evacuate if told to do so, move to higher ground or a higher floor, or stay where you are.
Nearly every part of our country experiences periods of reduced rainfall. If we plan for drought, then we can enjoy the benefits or normal or rainy years and not get caught unprepared in dry years.
Strategies for drought preparedness focus mainly on water conservation. Make these practices a part of your daily life and help preserve this essential resource.
- Never pour water down the drain when there may be another use for it. For example, use it to water your indoor plants or garden;
- Repair dripping faucets be replacing washers. One drop per second wasters 2,700 gallons of water per year;
- Check all plumbing for leaks and have any leaks repaired by a plumber;
- Retrofit all household faucets by installing aerators with flow restrictors;
- Install an instant hot water heater on your sink;
- Insulate your water pipes to reduce heat loss and prevent them from breaking;
- Install a water softening system only when the minerals in the water would damage your pipes. Turn the softener off while on vacation; and
- Choose appliances that are more energy and water efficient.
Extreme heat often results in the highest number of annual deaths among all weather-related hazards. In most of the United States, extreme heat is defined as a long period (2-3 days) of high heat and humidity with temperatures above 90 degrees. In extreme heat, evaporation is slowed and the body must work extra hard to maintain a normal temperature. This can lead to death by overworking the human body. Remember that:
Extreme heat can occur quickly and without warning;
Older adults, children, and sick or overweight individuals are at greater risk from extreme heat; and
Humidity increases the feeling of heat as measured by a heat index.
If your community is under an extreme heat warning:
Find air conditioning;
Avoid strenuous activities;
Watch for heat illness; Wear light clothing;
Check on family members and neighbors;
Drink plenty of fluids;
Watch for heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke; and
Never leave people or pets in a closed car.
Hurricanes are massive storm systems that form over warm ocean waters and move toward land. Potential threats from hurricanes include powerful winds, heavy rainfall, inland flooding, tornadoes and landslides. The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30. Hurricanes:
- Can happen along any U.S. coast or in any territory in the Atlantic or Pacific oceans;
- Can affect areas more than 100 miles inland; and
- Are most active in September.
If your community is under a hurricane warning, find a safe shelter right away and:
- Determine how best to protect yourself from high winds and flooding; evacuate if told to do so or take refuge in a designated storm shelter, or an interior room for high winds;
- Listen for emergency information alerts;
- Only use generators outdoors and away from windows; and
- Do not walk, swim, or drive through flood waters.
Tornadoes can destroy buildings, flip cars, and create deadly flying debris. Tornadoes are violently rotating columns of air that extend from a thunderstorm to the ground. Tornadoes can:
- Happen anytime and anywhere;
- Bring intense winds, over 200 MPH; and
- Look like funnels.
If you community is under a tornado warning, find safe shelter right away and:
- If you can safely get to a sturdy building, then do so immediately;
- Go to a safe room, basement, or storm cellar;
- If you are in a building with no basement, then get to a small interior room on the lowest level;
- Stay away from windows, doors, and outside walls;
- Do not get under an overpass or bridge. You're safer in a low, flat location;
- Watch out for flying debris that can cause injury or death; and
- Use your arms to protect your head and neck.
Thunderstorms & Lightning
Lightning is a leading cause of injury and death from weather-related hazards. Although most lightning victims survive, people struck by lightning often report a variety of long-term, debilitating symptoms. Thunderstorms are dangerous storms that include lightning and can:
If you community is under a thunderstorm warning, find safe shelter right away and:
Move from outdoors into a building or car;
Pay attention to alerts and warnings;
Unplug appliances; and
Do not use landline phones.
Information courtesy of www.ready.gov