March in Kansas is a lovely time of year! The grass turns green, the trees and flowers bloom...and our regularly scheduled television programs get interrupted with obnoxious boops, beeps, & scrolling tickers about severe weather brewing in distant parts of nowhere near us. Ok, ok, occasionally storms happen in Jefferson County, and we should probably be prepared.
And by being prepared, we mean NOT going outside to look for the tornado when the sirens go off.
One way of being prepared is knowing what all the weather keywords mean. Fortunately, we're with the government and we're here to help. :)
Here's the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) guide to severe weather terms to know. For additional info, please see their page
(which also features definitions for Coral Bleaching, Harmful Algal Blooms, and Space Weather. Kind of interesting, but I'm a nerd like that).Terms to Know-Tornado
: A violently rotating column of
air, usually pendant to a cumulonimbus, with circulation
reaching the ground. It nearly always starts as a funnel
cloud and may be accompanied by a loud roaring noise. On
a local scale, it is the most destructive of all atmospheric
Tornadoes are possible in your area. Remain alert for approaching
storms. Know what counties or parishes are in the watch area
by listening to NOAA Weather Radio or your local radio/television
: A tornado has been sighted
or indicated by weather radar.Severe Thunderstorm
- A thunderstorm that
produces a tornado, winds of at least 58 mph (50 knots),
and/or hail at least ¾" in diameter. Structural
wind damage may imply the occurrence of a severe thunderstorm.
A thunderstorm wind equal to or greater than 40 mph (35 knots)
and/or hail of at least ½" is defined as approaching
Severe Thunderstorm Watch
: Tells you when
and where severe thunderstorms are likely to occur. Watch
the sky and stay tuned to know when warnings are issued.
Severe Thunderstorm Warning
: Issued when
severe weather has been reported by spotters or indicated
by radar. Warnings indicate imminent danger to life and property
to those in the path of the storm.Flash Flood -
A flood which is caused by
heavy or excessive rainfall in a short period of time, generally
less than 6 hours. Also, at times a dam failure can cause
a flash flood, depending on the type of dam and time period
during which the break occurs.Flash Flood Watch
- Issued to indicate current
or developing hydrologic conditions that are favorable for
flash flooding in and close to the watch area, but the occurrence
is neither certain or imminent.
Flash Flood Warning
- Issued to inform the
public, emergency management, and other cooperating agencies
that flash flooding is in progress, imminent, or highly likely.