Understand a Severe Thunderstorm
Wichita Falls is prone to severe weather during the months of March through June, but severe weather can occur at any time of the year. A Severe Thunderstorm is classified by the National Weather Service (NWS) as a thunderstorm capable of producing winds of 58 mph (93 kph) or higher and/or hail 1 inch in diameter or larger. Note that all thunderstorms are capable of producing a tornado if conditions are right. When it comes to severe weather, there are four types of alerts that can be issued by the NWS: Severe Thunderstorm WATCH, Severe Thunderstorm WARNING, Tornado WATCH, and Tornado WARNING.
Watch vs. Warning:
Severe Thunderstorm Watch: Be Prepared! (House 2)Severe thunderstorms are possible in and near the watch area. Stay informed and be ready to act if a severe thunderstorm warning is issued. The watch area is typically large, covering numerous counties or even states.
Severe Thunderstorm Warning: Take Action!Severe weather has been reported by spotters or indicated on weather radar. Warnings indicate imminent danger to life and property. Warnings typically encompass a much smaller area (around the size of a city or small county) that may be impacted by large hail or damaging wind identified by an NWS forecaster on radar or by a trained spotter.
Before a Severe Thunderstorm:
Find out what you can do before severe weather strikes. Preparation is key to staying safe and minimizing impacts.
- Be Weather-Ready: Check the forecast regularly to see if you're at risk for severe weather. Listen to local news or check the Norman National Weather Service webpage to stay informed about severe thunderstorm watches and warnings.
- Sign up for WichitaFalls CodeRED: The number one way to receive an emergency alert from Wichita Falls OEM and NWS is through a CodeRED message. Visit Emergency Alerts for more information on how to sign up and keep your information up to date.
- Know What to Do: When a Severe Thunderstorm Warning is issued know what to do and where to go in your building.
- Build or Re-Stock Your Kit: Have critical items to help you survive before help arrives. During large-scale disasters, help could be delayed.
During a Severe Thunderstorm:
TAKE ACTION NOW to protect yourself and others. If the Severe Thunderstorm produces a Tornado, the National Weather Services will issue a Tornado Warning. If a Tornado Warning is issued, follow the tornado guidelines.
- At Your House: Go to your secure location if you hear a severe thunderstorm warning. Damaging wind or large hail may be approaching. Take your pets with you if time allows.
- At Your Workplace or School: Stay away from windows if you are in a severe thunderstorm warning and damaging wind or large hail is approaching. Do not go to large open rooms such as cafeterias, gymnasiums, or auditoriums.
- Outside: Go inside a sturdy building immediately if severe thunderstorms are approaching. Sheds and storage facilities are not safe. Taking shelter under a tree can be deadly. The tree may fall on you. Standing under a tree also puts you at a greater risk of getting struck by lightning.
After a Severe Thunderstorm:
What should you do when the lightning and thunder stop and it looks like the severe thunderstorm is over?