Weather Safety Tips
Tornadoes are one of nature's most violent storms and can occur in West Texas. They strike quickly with little or no warning. During violent storms, remain tuned to the local TV and radio stations for updates.
The National Weather Service encourages radio and TV stations to use the following terms to communicate storm conditions:
- During a Tornado Watch, tornadoes are possible. Watch the sky, and stay tuned to broadcasts for information.
- Under a Tornado Warning, a tornado funnel has been reported or indicated by weather radar. When a tornado warning is issued, get your family to a safe location immediately.
If a tornado warning is issued or a funnel is spotted:
- Go to a basement or an interior hallway on the ground floor, or a small inner room such as bathroom or closet.
- Stay away for the windows and outside walls of the building.
- Avoid spaces with wide-span roofs such as family great rooms, auditoriums, cafeterias, or shopping malls.
- Get under a sturdy piece of furniture such as a heavy table or desk and hold on to it.
- If in a mobile home, get out and seek shelter elsewhere.
The NWS uses the following terms to communicate thunderstorm conditions:
- A severe thunderstorm watch is issued when weather conditions are such that a severe thunderstorm is likely to develop.
- A severe thunderstorm warning is issued when a severe thunderstorm has been sighted or indicated by weather radar.
All thunderstorms are dangerous, and every thunderstorm is capable of producing lightening strikes as far as 10 miles away from rainfall.
If the probability of a severe storm is present, follow these guidelines:
- Take shelter inside a home, building or hardtop vehicle.
- Postpone outdoor activities.
- Secure outdoor objects that could blow away or cause damage.
- Get away from lakes, swimming pools or other bodies of water.
- Close window blinds, shades or curtains and secure outside doors.
- Unplug electrical equipment to avoid damage from lightening spikes.
- Be prepared for storm-caused power outages with flashlights and fresh batteries.
- Use a battery-operated radio for weather updates.
Flash floods occasionally follow thunderstorms in this area. Be especially aware of flood hazards if you live in a low-lying area.
Even very small streams, creeks and streets can be dangerous in a flash flood as they carry rocks and debris in the very powerful water surge.
Use the following precautions during times of flooding:
- Listen to radio or TV reports about flooding in your area.
- Be prepared to move to higher ground should flood waters begin to rise.
- Turn off utilities at the main switch. Do not touch electrical equipment or wires if you are wet or standing in water.
- Do not walk through moving water. Only 6 inches of moving water can cause you to fall.
- Do not drive on flooded streets. There may be hidden low spots that can cause your vehicle to stall or even be washed into a swollen stream.
- If your car stalls, abandon it quickly, if it is possible, to safely reach higher ground.
- Do not drive around or through barricades or past stalled vehicles.
Texas summers are notoriously hot. When humidity is added to the heat an extreme heat emergency can occur.
There are several terms used to identify heat hazards:
- A heat wave is a prolonged period of excess heat, combined with excessive humidity.
- The heat index is a calculation in degrees Fahrenheit to tell how hot it feels when relative humidity is added to air temperature.
- Heat cramps occur when muscles ache and spasm due to heavy exertion and may be the first sigh the body is in heat distress.
- Heat exhaustion occurs when people exert themselves in hot, humid conditions resulting in body fluid loss through heavy sweating. Mild shock may result.
- Heat stroke or sun stroke occurs when the body's temperature control system fails. Brain damage and death may result if body temperatures are not cooled.
When it's extremely hot, take the following precautions:
- Stay indoors in a ventilated area and out of the sun.
- If air conditioning is not available, stay on the lowest floor and near a fan.
- Consider spending the warmest part of the day in public buildings such as libraries, shopping malls, or community facilities.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Limit alcoholic beverage consumption.
- Dress in loose-fitting, lightweight clothing.
- Check on family, friends and neighbors who spend time alone.
- Never leave children or pets alone in a closed vehicle, even for a minute.
- Avoid strenuous work during the warmest part of the day.
Some winters, the City of Littlefield gets ice storms that cause major roadway problems. The weight of freezing precipitation can cause power lines to fall and leave many without electricity. Very cold temperatures can cause problems with freezing pipes and the leaks and breaks that show up when things thaw.
To minimize risks during inclement winter weather, follow these guidelines:
- Tune into your local TV and radio stations to see if schools are closed during winter storms.
- Be sure to prepare for extended storm-related power outages with:
- A battery-powered radio
- Canned food and a manual opener
- Drinking water
- Supplies of candles, matches, flashlights, and batteries
- If cell phones are working, conserve battery power by limiting non-essential calls. You may be able to recharge the battery using a laptop computer.