Resources from The Ultimate Severe Weather Safety Guide
by Martin Lisius
Resources To Get
- NOAA Weather Alert Radios here.
- The RadarScope app for Android here, and NOAA weather alert apps for Android here.
- The RadarScope app for iPhone and iPad here, and NOAA Weather Alerts app (by WeatherSphere) for iPhone and iPad here.
- A vehicle evacuation tool here.
The National Weather Service (NWS) is responsible for issuing watches (through the Storm Prediction Center) and warnings (by your local NWS Forecast Office). Their web sites are excellent resources for learning more about severe weather. Both are part of NOAA - the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Join your local Red Cross, Salvation Army (US) or other disaster preparedness or relief organization. Become a trained storm spotter. Contact your National Weather Service Forecast Office for details. Learn about severe weather and share your knowledge and passion with children, co-workers, and neighbors.
NOAA Weather Alert Radios
I cannot suggest a specific brand of weather radio, but I do prefer single-task radios that feature little or nothing other than NOAA Weather Radio with the alarm feature, SAME technology and a backup battery in case the power goes out. It's critical that your radio is always on with the alarm and voice volumes up. A good weather alert radio works like this: a loud alarm sounds, a loud and clear voice (from the National Weather Service) is heard giving information and instructions, the voice ends and the radio is silent until the next alarm. Some radios also feature an LCD that lists the status of the radio and the current watch, warning, or other message. This offers a visual "alarm" option for those that are unable to hear the audible alarm. You can view several models of weather radios here.
For a quality, reliable storm shelter, you'll want to hire a company that is certified by the National Storm Shelter Association (NSSA) or American Tornado Shelter Association (ATSA). Both organizations provide a list of member installers and can suggest a shelter company in your area. I recommend shelters that are accessible without going outdoors in the rain, hail and lightning - if possible.
Smart Phone Severe Weather Apps
There are many weather apps that can help keep you updated. There is one app that I particularly like called RadarScope (for Android and iPhone). It's basically a high-end radar tool that displays not only reflectivity, but also base velocity which indicates particle motions (possible rotation) within a storm, as well as warning polygons and text. As far as I know, RadarScope is the highest quality weather radar app currently available. It's great for weather geeks like me. However, it does not presently offer a weather alert feature. There are several apps that do. You'll want one that can send you push notifications (alerts) for your specific area which you can setup within the app. I like having RadarScope and a weather alert app. It's a great combination.
- Get the RadarScope app for Android here
- Get the RadarScope app for iPhone and iPad here
- Get NOAA Weather Alerts app (by WeatherSphere) for iPhone and iPad here
Mobile Threat Net Weather Radar
Mobile Threat Net is weather radar on a laptop, or other computer, delivered by Sirius XM Satellite. It is an especially useful tool for storm spotters, emergency managers, 911 centers, police, fire, event managers, broadcasters or anyone who needs to closely monitor weather radar. The advantage of Mobile Threat Net is it does not rely on cellular technology, which can go down or be jammed during severe weather. It works anywhere in the US where a clear view of the southern sky is accessible. I created a video explaining how Mobile Threat Net works. View it here.
Useful severe weather related items to consider:
- Fog lights or driving lamps for your car. I've had good experience with products made by KC HiLites, which is located in Arizona.
- A quality car battery. Get a battery with good specs and keep the terminals clean at all times. I like the AC Delco Professional Series and the Sears DieHard Gold, but there are other quality batteries on the market.
- Tires with a high wet traction rating. Look for a tire with a high traction rating (and heat rating). I have done much research on this subject and have concluded that (for a light truck) the Michelin LTX M/S is probably the best and safest all-around tire. It's designed for pick-ups, vans, and SUVs. There are likely other good options on the market, though. Just spend some extra time and do your research.
- Quality windshield wipers. Check often for cracks and other wear. Bosch makes a good wiper called Aerotwin.
- Rain-X Glass Treatment. Rain-X can be very helpful when used properly. First, clean your windshield and let it dry. Then rub the treatment on with a soft, clean cloth or paper towel. Apply in a circular motion and cover only the glass. Let it dry to a haze. Now, sprinkle on drops of clean water. Rub with a soft, clean cloth or paper towel until ALL of the residue is completely removed visually. This last step is important to avoid smearing when it rains. Don't use the Rain-X treatment/cleaner combo product. I can't get it to perform as well as the original Rain-X treatment product.
- Smart phone battery back-up devices. These devices can give your smart phone a boost when the power is out. Get one with a good rating.
- Avalanche safety devices including location avalanche beacons, snow probes, and airbag backpacks which inflate to protect your head and keep you near the surface of a slide. When you think about avalanche safety, bear in mind that most fatalities are from traumatic injury rather than suffocation. If you are caught in an avalanche, you want to have protection for your head, a way to stay near the surface, and a beacon to help others find you. Naturally, avoiding a slide altogether is the best safety measure you can take.
- A vehicle evacuation tool may be a lifesaver if your car is washed off the road in a flash flood. Carry this tool in case you need a way to escape quickly from your vehicle when your doors won't open.
If you have any questions about this publication, please contact us or visit The Ultimate Severe Weather Safety Guide main page.