What to expect and how to prepare your business for severe weather this spring.
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2021 already has 23 tornadoes preliminarily on record - with four associated fatalities - and AccuWeather meteorologists are anticipating an active severe weather season. Many organizations, especially those located in tornado-prone regions of the country, are taking advantage of this calm before the storm to review their emergency preparedness plans.
During spring, cold air from the north clashing with warm, moisture-rich air from the Gulf of Mexico is the primary driver of severe weather. This year, those ingredients are forecast to come together in a volatile way in April and May.
AccuWeather long-range meteorologists are expecting the central Gulf states and mid-to-lower Mississippi Valley to have the highest risk of severe weather from late March to May. Drought conditions across the Four Corners and High Plains may limit some thunderstorm activity over what’s traditionally known as Tornado Alley, which encompasses the central and northern Plains.
Severe storms produce a variety of hazards that can cause significant bodily harm, as well as damage to property. Having a robust emergency action plan that accounts for specific hazards is critical to employee safety, as well as your organization's continuity.
Tornadoes: Although tornadoes are most likely in the Great Plains, Midwest, and Southeast regions of the United States during the spring and early summer months, they frequently occur outside of that geography and time of year. This risk should motivate site safety managers to list tornadoes as a potential hazard and plan accordingly, even if their local area has never experienced a tornado.
Damaging wind: Microbursts, gust fronts, downdrafts and straight-line winds (like those caused by last year’s derecho), can damage buildings and turn ordinary objects into debris projectiles.
Hail: Exterior damage to structures and vehicles is likely from any hailstones larger than a dime and can also cause serious injury when striking a person.
Flash flooding: Flash floods typically occur during periods of rapid rain in areas with dry or saturated soil or ground that doesn't absorb moisture sufficiently. Flash flooding doesn’t always occur directly underneath a storm. Rain may have occurred at a higher elevation and run into the area. Snow may melt quickly and spark flash flooding. A levee or dam may also break and send a destructive wall of water into an area.
Lightning: Lightning strikes are an enormous safety concern for any organization, often causing extensive damage and sometimes injury or death. It is imperative for organizations with outdoor operations to have an accurate weather warning system in place to alert employees of impending storms.
The safety of employees, continuity of operations, and avoidable downtime leading to revenue decrease depends on an organization’s plan for reacting and responding to severe weather. Utilize AccuWeather For Business as your partner with expertise in both meteorology and business continuity.
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