Weather Preparedness Information 2014
Central Illinois is experiencing another tornado season, but there is more afoot in the Midwest during spring than just tornadoes. Our weather will also come in the form of severe thunderstorms, which will possibly bring high winds and/or hail to the area. These storms can approach without warning, and learning to recognize the danger signs will help you be ready when they threaten. As mentioned before, tornadoes are also a local weather phenomenon that can become severe, and they deserve no less forethought and planning. The following resources are offered to help you better understand and prepare for these types of weather events.
Sources of Information
Current Weather Conditions:
Current Conditions - University of Illinois, Department of Atmospheric Sciences. Click here first because this site contains useful information such as current Champaign conditions (including heat index), current weather maps, new radar images with national regional and local perspectives, and more. In conjunction with WILL-AM580, the campus-owned radio station, the page also contains current Champaign-Urbana forecasts made by the station.
National Weather Hazards - National Weather Service. This site contains notices of active weather warnings for each state. Click on a state to see more detail. Your screen will update every 60 seconds with new information, and the site contains hourly weather reports, forecasts and more.
USA Weather - Intellicast. Intellicast provides video of current national weather conditions, as well as other weather information. The format is both graphical and text-based, so users with slower connections might want to drop in here. You can select a local area forecast for Illinois, or check out their Interactive Weather Map, Watches & Warnings or their alerts page.
Midwest Climate Watch - Midwest Regional Climate Center. Recent climate information can be found on this site including Drought Index Maps, Crop Moisture Maps and more. This site is maintained by the Midwest Regional Climate Center.
Single Site Radar Data - College of DuPage Meteorology/Nexlab Radar Pages. The College of DuPage Single Site Radar Data page offers extensive national radar information. The site provides looping radar image sequences for stations in Illinois and other states as well as many other satellite and radar products.
The Weather Channel - The Weather Channel. This site contains weather information for the entire United States. Current information for specific locations is also available. Just enter your zip code at the top of the page.
Severe Weather Information
Frequently Asked Questions - Storm Prediction Center. This FAQ can answer many questions you have about severe thunderstorms. Questions answered include: "What is a Severe Thunderstorm or Tornado Watch?", "Why are watches not issued for all severe storms?" and "What's the difference between a watch and a warning?"
Severe Thunderstorms - The Weather Channel. What is the key to surviving severe weather? Safety and Preparedness. This site provides updates on severe thunderstorms on their National Forecast page, their Storm Watch page, and information on thunderstorm safety (lightning), thunderstorm climatology, and how thunderstorms form in their Storm Encyclopedia. There are also sections on thunderstorm watches and warnings, storm preparedness and Recovery information.
Be Aware Of Spring Time Severe Weather - Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). This article reminds us that spring is approaching fast (March 20th is the first day). With the possibility of severe weather ahead - including thunderstorms, lightning, and tornadoes - it pays to be aware. Also from FEMA: Are You Ready: Thunderstorms and Lightning?.
Fact Sheet: Thunderstorms and Lightning - Federal Emergency Management Agency. This site lists information that will help you before, during, and after a thunderstorm. Would you think to have a nonelectric can opener on hand? Also check out What to do Before a Thunderstorm and What to do During a Thunderstorm. Take a Knowledge Check quiz to see how you stack up.
NOAA Climate Prediction Center - Climate Prediction Center. The mission of the Climate Prediction Center is to maintain a continuous watch on short-term climate fluctuations and to diagnose and predict them. Of particular interest if their U.S. Hazards Assessment.
Illinois Tornadoes - Illinois State Climatologist's Office. The State Climatologist answers questions: "What is a Tornado?" and "How do tornadoes form?" There are also tornado facts, and a listing of the last 20 years of Illinois tornadoes.
Storm Prediction Center Home - Storm Prediction Center. This site contains a wonderful Frequently Asked Questions page specifically on tornadoes is contained on this site, as are many other links such as the basics of tornadoes.
Are You Ready? (What to do During a Tornado) - Federal Emergency Management Agency. If a tornado should approach your area, you have little time to make very important decisions. This site provides information to guide you in these decisions before, during, and after a tornado. Also see What to do Before a Tornado (Prepare a Safe Room) and some quick facts about tornados.
Tornado Safety & Preparedness - The Weather Channel. "One of the most alarming aspects of tornadoes is their randomness. Your best defense is to be alert and prepared. The time to begin is now...." Along with the previous link, they provide Tornado Home Protection information. There are also tornado myths listed and an article on what to do when a warning is issued.
Tornados: Are you at risk? - The Weather Channel. While the best defense against tornados is always to be prepared, certain areas are considered to be at a higher risk than others. Do you live near Tornado Alley? This map shows Tornado Risk by Month & Location. They have also developed the TOR:CON Index which is an estimate of the risk of a tornado on a given day or night based on your location.
Spring Flood Center - Federal Emergency Management Agency. Topics here include what to do before, during, and after a flood. There is also information on flood safety, flood insurance, disaster news, and how to protect your property from floods. Also worth reading are the California Winter Flood Safety And Preparedness Tips, as most apply to other parts of the country as well. There is also a list of flood terms (near page bottom), as well as important points to remember when driving in flood conditions.
Flood Smart - National Flood Insurance Program. Topics include how to prepare for floods, and what to do during and after a flood. You can also determine your risk by entering your street address in the red box on the home page.
Hydrologic Information Center - National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Weather Service. A great resource for hydrologic information, including river conditions, hydrologic & meteorological outlooks, and archival/historic information. Of particular interest are the National Warnings page and the National Hydrologic Assessment (Spring Flood Outlook), issued around March 15th.
Resources: Floods and droughts - USA Today. There are many useful links to flood and water-related resources here, including real-time flood information, flood causes and forecasting, and information about the basics of water.
What to Do Before an Earthquake - Federal Emergency Management Agency. Designed to help you identify potential hazards before they occur, this site helps you prepare for a potential earthquake. There is also an Earthquake Safety Checklist.
Earthquake Hazards Program - U.S. Geological Survey. This site contains a myriad of information including maps with near-realtime earthquake information, lists of significant earthquakes, and featured news items related to quakes. The site allows you to zoom in on different areas of the planet and view activity. You can sign up for real-time feeds and notifications too.
Preparing Your Family For An Earthquake (pdf ~150k) - California Governor's Office of Emergency Services. No matter where you are, you should know how to protect yourself and others during an earthquake. This PDF file will explain how. They also have a Duck, Cover and Hold Drill.
Rays Awareness - The Weather Channel. You may only consider some areas of the planet to be a sun-burn risk, but the truth is your skin is prone to the dangers of sun overexposure anywhere. Check the UV Outlook Index before going outdoors, to see if sunblock is needed. Pay special attention to children and infants.