Severe Weather Week kicks off
RAPID CITY, S.D. — Severe weather awareness week kicks off April 19th, and in South Dakota we know that severe weather comes in many forms.
The beauty of the Black Hills draws tourists every year, but the National Weather Service wants people to prepare for the wild side of South Dakota… the weather. Thunderstorms, hail and occasionally tornadoes have been seen locally, and the NWS is encouraging residents to start prepping for the rollercoaster ahead.
“You should always know the forecast before heading out, especially if you’re gonna be outside,” said science and operations officer, Matthew Bunkers. “Also have a way to receive warning messages, and you get that through your cell phone, but you can also get that through NOAA weather radio. The nice thing about NOAA weather radios is they have battery backup and we have transmitters throughout the black hills, so you can get a signal from the no weather radio even though your cell phone might not have coverage.”
Another reminder is that not all bad weather warrants severe warnings, and conditions may change rapidly.
“Thunderstorms produce lightning and that is hazardous,” said Bunkers. “We might not issues a severe thunderstorm warning for that storm because it doesn’t have large hail strong winds, but the lightning is a threat no matter what, no matter how weak the storm may be.”
“You always in the back of your mind have to be thinking about, if I get into a bad situation how am I gonna get out of it,” said NWS meteorologist, Jeff Johnson. “If you’re out on the lake and you see a thunderstorm coming, don’t wait for the actual lightning to come out onto the lake and for the rain and winds to start picking up, because at that point it’s already too late.”
The NWS will also conduct a statewide tornado drill on Wednesday, April 21st between 9:00 and 9:30 a.m. Businesses and individuals can use this time to practice shelter in place and other emergency plans such as evacuations. Although evacuation situations are rare, wildfires and flooding are still occurrences that should not be taken lightly.
“It may happen in a flash flood where you have to pretty much immediately get out of your house,” said Johnson. “So the best thing is to have a bag or a suitcase always ready to go. You can carry important documents in the bag. One thing that a lot of people may not think about, but they probably should carry with them, is their medications.”
Officials stress prepping now, so you’re ready at any time.