We have been in a stormy weather pattern lately. We have had so much rain that my garden does not have a chance. In fact, we woke up to Richmond International Airport being closed due to flooding. Storms have multiple parts that may cause damage: wind, rain, lightning, hail and tornadoes, just to name a few. A nice rain shower that drops the temperature and lowers the humidity is just that, nice. It is when the storms reach extremes that they wreak havoc.
We have seen more flash flooding lately than in times past, or at least it seems. There are some places that are prone to flooding regularly. However, excessive amounts of rainfall can cause a babbling brook to become a raging torrent. Flash floods can cause waters to run swiftly and rise quickly. It is important that you not drive a vehicle through a flooded section of road, no matter how deep the water is. Another problem that comes with all this rain is the destabilization of the ground that holds trees in place. Soggy ground lends to your vehicle getting stuck if you pull off the road.
Wind can be another problem. High winds topple trees when the ground is solid, more so when the ground is saturated. Wind can also cause loose items to become projectiles. Fire spread is also intensified when a fire is wind-driven. Wind issues come from wind shear or tornadoes. If a tornado is possible, then you must go to a safe place like an interior room or a basement. The worst place that you can be in a tornado is a mobile home, camper or vehicle. If a tornado warning is issued, then you must take the necessary precautions to protect your family.
Lightning can strike buildings, gas lines or people. Whether you are on the golf course or in your front yard, lightning can strike you anywhere. You must seek safety when a lightning storm is approaching, has arrived or is departing. Lightning strikes have caused many buildings to catch fire.
June 1 through Nov. 1 is hurricane season. Virginia has had its share of tropical systems over the years. Some systems are rain events, some are wind events and some are rain and wind events. Whatever the case, we must be prepared for whatever comes. The issue with an exceptionally strong storm or hurricane is that the effects may last for days and maybe even weeks. Are we prepared to be without power for weeks? I had friends in Lynchburg who lost their power for days when a line of tornadoes came through a few weeks back. No power means no refrigerator and no air conditioning. It also means no electrically-powered medical equipment. If you have a portable generator, you must ensure that the area where you run your generator is well-ventilated, preventing carbon monoxide poisoning.
It is important to keep an eye to the sky during this time of the year. I did not talk about the danger of being caught in a storm when you are on the water. Whatever the case, you must take weather events seriously. Storms will come up faster than expected, with torrential rains and strong winds possible. You cannot take for granted the power of a storm. It is important to get your family to safety as quickly as possible when a storm is approaching.