FIRST PERSON | ALEDO, Texas -- Like thousands of people in north Texas on Wednesday evening, I watched funnel clouds cross the sky. Colors splashed across the television as meteorologists sought to predict where the 10 tornadoes that ravaged our area might hit next.
Six died. Hundreds were injured, dozens of homes destroyed and thousands of households damaged by baseball-sized hail or high winds.
Preparedness stood out. In Hood County, an EF-4 twister took homes completely off their foundations. Local authorities had a command post set up, a triage center established and calls out for aid from emergency services districts around the area in short order. In small town Texas, officials had disaster preparedness down to a well-rehearsed science.
It was a great contrast to the civilian population. People had their entire lives blown away in the storm and were totally unprepared for the emergency. Afterwards they were stunned, wandering through the driving rain in shorts and sandals.
Gone are the days when a Tornado Warning meant running out to the front porch and watching for the storm. This is weather roulette, so be ready. Today's dual-polarized Doppler radar, and the network of storm spotters and tornado chasers, means a Tornado Warning can target only those in the very path of the storm. When you hear the alert and run into the closet, bathroom or storm cellar, you could very well come out to find the only things to survive the storm are what you have on. If you duck and cover in flip-flops and yoga pants, guess what you have left in this world?
In this brave new world of weather forecasting you need to be prepared, right now. When the Tornado Warning is broadcast, be smart -- put on long pants and sturdy, closed-toe shoes or boots. If the worst happens, you'll be climbing over broken glass and crumbled buildings.
Make it a priority to put together an emergency kit with a flashlight, batteries, bottled water, all the medications you may need, a first aid kit, a whistle, poncho or rain gear and a weather radio. Leather gloves and some duct tape could be handy to have. A backpack offers a portable storage space for your emergency kit.
The American Red Cross offers prepared kits ranging from $20, to a deluxe backpack with everything except your personal medications for $90.
Colin Holmes is a member of the North Texas Skywarn network and a lifelong Texas weather watcher.
- Natural Phenomena
- Nature & Environment