Summer Storms + Tornadoes: Summer Storms and Tornadoes can bring torrential rains, damaging winds, dangerous lighting, and large hail. Furthermore, due to the complex nature of these storms, the affected area from an event could be very small, perhaps only a few blocks within a single town, or a system could impact multiple communities. Severe summer storms include tornadoes, downburst, lightning, high winds, heavy rain and hail. These weather systems can cause flash floods, as well as, downed trees and power lines.
The possible weather events are:
Summer Storms: To help warn residents to the arrival of potentially severe and destructive storms systems the National Weather Service utilizes a system of watches and warnings to designate the potential for damaging weather. The following definitions are pulled directly from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s webpage.
- Severe Thunderstorm Watch: Episodes of hail one inch in diameter or larger, and/or damaging winds are expected during a three-to-eight hour period. Winds for a severe thunderstorm are in excess of 58 miles per hour or 50 knots. Typical watches cover about 25,000 square miles.
- Severe Thunderstorm Warning: Episodes of hail one inch in diameter or larger, and/or damaging thunderstorm winds have developed and are occurring, or are imminent. Winds are in excess of 58 miles per hour or in excess of 50 knots. Unlike a watch, a Severe Thunderstorm Warning is generally only issued for small areas where the severe weather is likely to impact the region in the very near future.
Hail: Hail has the potential to be extremely devastating; with hail above an inch in diameter capable causing significant damage to crops, persons, and property. While correlations can be drawn between the presence of hail and a tornado hail does not mean a tornado is imminent nor does its absence mean there is no risk of a tornado.
Lightning: Lightning is an exceptionally dangerous hazard that is most commonly associated with thunderstorms. Lightning typically occurs in two different forms. Intra-cloud lightning occurs between oppositely charged particles within the thunderstorm cloud structure. Because the discharge occurs within the cloud structure, it poses little threat to human life or destruction of property. The second form of lightning is cloud-to-ground lightning. This form occurs either between negatively charged particles at the base of the cloud and positively charged particles on the ground; or positively charged particles at the top of the thunderstorm structure and negatively charged particles on the ground. Cloud-to-ground lightning can pose a great threat to both human life and property.
Downbursts: Downbursts are a severe weather occurrence that occasionally accompanies a severe thunderstorm. A downburst develops when large portions of unstable air mass begin to fall, creating a downdraft. These straight line winds can easily exceed 100mph.
Tornadoes: Tornadoes are the product of a severe thunderstorm that has progressed in such a way to produce the low level rotation needed for tornado development. On a localized basis, tornadoes are the most destructive of all atmospheric phenomena. Wind speeds of 65-85 mph are associated with the least intense tornadoes while winds over 200 mph are associated with the most intense.
Winter storms and weather range from blizzards, ice storms, heavy snow, sleet, freezing rain and extreme cold. Most deaths from winter storms result from traffic accidents on icy roads and hypothermia from prolonged exposure to cold. Damage to trees and tree limbs and the resultant downing of utility cables are a common effect of these types of events. Secondary effects include loss of power and heat.
The possible weather events that can impact the region are:
- Blizzard: The main characteristic of a blizzard is that it has conditions of sustained winds or frequent gusts of 35 mph or more. The high winds cause blowing and drifting of snow and reduction of visibility. By definition, visibility is reduced to less than one quarter mile for three or more hours. Extremely cold temperatures are often associated with blizzard conditions.
- Winter Storm: A heavy snow event results in a snow accumulation of more than six inches in twelve hours, or more than twelve inches in twenty-four hours. Unlike a blizzard, a heavy snow event does not have the high, sustained winds that can cause reduced visibility and down trees and power lines.
- Freezing Rain: Temperatures at higher levels are warm enough for rain to form but surface temperatures are below 32 degrees. The rain freezes on contact and coats objects such as trees, cars or roads, forming a glaze of ice. When a substantial amount of freezing rain occurs and at least one-quarter inch of ice accumulates, it is referred to as an “Ice Strom.” The freezing rain from an ice storm can create hazardous walking and driving conditions, and cause trees and branches to break from the weight of built-up ice. Power lines are susceptible to spanning from the weight of ice build-up.
- Nor’easter: The classic winter storm in New England is the nor’easter. Strong northeast winds are created and wind driven waves can batter the coastline, causing flooding and severe beach erosion. Coupled with a high tide, the low pressure of a nor’easter can have an effect similar to a storm surge from a hurricane. During the winter months and if the temperatures are right, heavy snow totals are possible.
- Sleet: Unlike freezing rain, sleet is formed by water droplets that freeze into ice pellets before reaching the ground. Sleet usually bounces when hitting a surface and does not stick to objects. However, it can accumulate like snow and cause a hazard to motorists. It typically falls as a mix of snow and freezing rain.
Extreme Heat: High temperatures can be dangerous for your health, especially for the elderly, young children and people who work outside. Heat kills by pushing the human body beyond its limits. In extreme heat and high humidity, evaporation is slowed and the body must work extra hard to maintain a normal temperature.
Drink plenty of water; even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid drinks with caffeine. Persons who have epilepsy or heart, kidney, or liver disease; are on fluid-restricted diets; or have a problem with fluid retention should consult a doctor before increasing liquid intake.
Never leave children or pets alone in closed vehicles.
Go to a designated public shelter if your home loses power during periods of extreme heat. Public libraries or shopping malls will usually have air conditioning as well. Call 211 or visit https://uwc.211ct.org/hotweather/