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What to Do During a Severe Thunderstorm Warning in Austin

When a severe thunderstorm warning is issued in Austin, it's critical to take immediate action to ensure your safety and the safety of those around you. Understanding the difference between watches and warnings, knowing how to protect yourself during the storm, and having a plan for long-term preparedness and post-storm recovery are all essential. This article provides guidance on what to do during a severe thunderstorm warning in Austin, with practical tips and advice to navigate the storm safely.

Key Takeaways

Know the difference between a severe thunderstorm watch and a warning; a warning indicates immediate action is required.

Stay informed through local news and weather services for real-time updates and instructions during severe weather events.

Implement immediate safety measures such as seeking shelter indoors, avoiding windows, and preparing for potential power outages.

Develop a long-term preparedness plan that includes an emergency kit and a family safety plan tailored to your home's vulnerabilities.

After the storm, assess and report any damage, steer clear of flooded areas and downed power lines, and seek necessary assistance.

Understanding Severe Thunderstorm Alerts

Differences Between Watches and Warnings

Understanding the distinction between a severe thunderstorm watch and a warning is crucial for safety. A watch indicates that conditions are favorable for severe weather to develop, while a warning is issued when severe weather is actually occurring or imminent. It's essential to stay weather aware and ensure you have a reliable method to receive updates.

Watch: Severe storms are possible in and near the watch area. It's time to be prepared.

Warning: A severe storm has been observed, or is expected shortly. Take immediate action to ensure safety.

During a severe thunderstorm warning, your immediate response can significantly affect your safety. Seeking shelter and avoiding outdoor activities should be prioritized.

Interpreting the Severity Levels

When a severe thunderstorm warning is issued for Austin, it's crucial to understand the severity levels to gauge the appropriate response. The National Weather Service categorizes severe weather threats on a scale from 1 to 5, with each level indicating the potential for weather-related damage and danger.

Level 1: Marginal risk - Minor damage is possible, and the public should stay alert.

Level 2: Slight risk - Increased likelihood of severe weather; precautions should be taken.

Level 3: Enhanced risk - Significant severe weather is expected; prepare for possible emergency situations.

Level 4: Moderate risk - High likelihood of severe weather; extensive preparations are necessary.

Level 5: High risk - Severe weather is imminent or occurring; take immediate action to ensure safety.

During a severe thunderstorm warning in Austin, it's essential to monitor updates and be ready to act quickly. The severity level can escalate rapidly, making it imperative to have a plan in place.

Understanding these levels helps residents and authorities like the City of Austin and Travis County leaders to strategize and communicate preparedness for severe weather and potential flooding.

Staying Informed Through Local News and Weather Services

During a severe thunderstorm warning, staying updated with the latest information is crucial. Local news and weather services play a vital role in keeping the community informed about the storm's progression and any necessary safety measures. Utilize resources such as the free FOX 7 WAPP for real-time radar, hourly, and 7-day weather forecasts, ensuring you're prepared for any changes.

It's important to be aware of the various platforms providing updates:

Wireless Emergency Alerts

NOAA Weather Radio

Local news broadcasts

Online weather portals

By regularly checking these services, you can receive timely alerts and updates, which are essential for your safety during severe weather conditions.

Remember to pay attention to alerts like a 'Tornado Watch' which indicates that conditions are favorable for tornadoes to develop. Such alerts are often broadcasted across multiple platforms, including local news channels like KXAN, ensuring you have the information needed to take appropriate action.

Immediate Safety Measures

Seeking Shelter: Best Practices

When a severe thunderstorm warning is issued, immediate action is crucial to ensure your safety. The best practice is to seek shelter in a substantial building or a vehicle with the windows up. Avoid mobile homes, as they offer little protection against the intense conditions of a severe thunderstorm.

Find an interior room on the lowest floor, away from windows and doors.

If you're in a high-rise, choose a central hallway.

For those outdoors unable to reach a building, avoid high ground and isolated trees.

Remember, your safety is paramount. If you find yourself in a vehicle, keep the windows closed and stay put until the storm passes.

Assist those who may need special attention, such as the elderly or disabled, and always stay clear of downed power lines. After the storm, heed local advice and avoid storm-damaged areas to prevent further risks.

Protecting Yourself from Hail and Wind

During a severe thunderstorm, hail and high winds can pose significant dangers. Seeking immediate shelter is crucial to avoid injury from flying debris, which can be lethal. Use your arms to protect your head and neck if caught in a vulnerable position.

When indoors, shutter windows and secure outside doors. It's important to stay away from windows to prevent injury from shattered glass. Avoid using plumbing and electrical appliances, as these can conduct electricity from lightning strikes.

If you're caught driving, try to exit the roadway and park in a safe location. Remain in your vehicle with the emergency flashers on until the storm passes. Remember, vehicles can offer a degree of protection from hail and wind, but avoid touching metal surfaces that could conduct electricity.

In the event of a severe thunderstorm, prioritize your safety by securing outdoor items and considering the installation of surge protectors to safeguard your electronics.

Lastly, never attempt to drive through flooded roadways or enter storm-damaged areas, as these actions can put you at great risk.

Handling Power Outages and Electrical Safety

During a severe thunderstorm, power outages in Austin can occur with little warning. Stay away from downed power lines and report them immediately to ensure the safety of yourself and others. Austin Energy actively prepares for such events; swaying and broken tree branches are common culprits for disrupting power lines, especially during windy conditions.

When power is lost, avoid using electrical equipment connected to outlets. Rely on battery-powered devices for news and communication. If you're driving and encounter heavy rain, pull over safely and use your vehicle's emergency flashers until it's safe to continue.

In the event of a power outage, it's crucial to have an emergency kit on hand. This should include essentials like water, non-perishable food, a flashlight, and a battery-powered radio.

Remember, do not attempt to bathe, shower, or use plumbing during a storm, as these actions can increase the risk of electrical injury.

Long-Term Preparedness

Creating an Emergency Kit

When severe weather threatens, having an emergency kit can be a lifesaver. Ensure your kit is easily accessible and properly stocked with essentials to sustain you and your family. Start with basic supplies such as:

Flashlights or battery-operated lanterns

Portable radio

First aid kit

Non-perishable food items

Water (one gallon per person per day)

Blankets or sleeping bags

Remember to check and replace these items regularly to ensure they are functional and safe to use when needed. Additionally, consider the unique needs of your household, including pets, and add items like prescription medications, baby supplies, or extra glasses.

It's crucial to tailor your emergency kit to the specific needs of your family, including any members with special health concerns or requirements.

By preparing an emergency kit, you're taking a proactive step towards your family's safety during unpredictable severe weather events.

Developing a Family Safety Plan

When a severe thunderstorm warning is issued, having a family safety plan in place is crucial. Ensure every family member knows the plan thoroughly and can act swiftly. Discuss and practice your plan regularly, especially during severe weather season.

Identify a safe room or space in your home for shelter.

Establish a meeting point outside your home in case of evacuation.

Assign responsibilities to each family member.

Tailor the plan to include those with special needs or health concerns.

It's essential to have a communication strategy that includes emergency contacts and a reunification process in case family members are separated.

Remember, your family's safety plan should be a living document, adaptable to different scenarios and updated as circumstances change. The goal is to minimize confusion and maximize safety during critical moments.

Understanding Your Home's Vulnerability to Storms

Assessing your home's vulnerability to severe thunderstorms is crucial for long-term preparedness. Knowing the specific risks your property faces can guide you in making informed decisions about safety measures and insurance coverage. Consider a professional assessment or utilize online resources like the Climate Risk Report for Homes and Real Estate to understand potential threats from fire, flood, and storms.

When evaluating your home, focus on structural integrity, especially the roof, windows, and doors. Ensure that trees and branches are trimmed to minimize the risk of damage from flying debris. Additionally, check for potential flooding areas and reinforce your home's defenses accordingly.

It's not just about surviving the storm but also about reducing the potential for costly repairs and ensuring the safety of everyone inside.

Remember to review and update your home's safety features regularly, as weather patterns and climate risks can change over time.

Post-Storm Safety and Recovery

Assessing and Reporting Damage

After a severe thunderstorm has passed, it's crucial to assess the situation and report any damage promptly. Ensure your safety first before venturing outside to check for property damage. If you encounter hazards such as downed power lines or structural damage, report these immediately to local authorities.

Stay away from storm-damaged areas to avoid putting yourself at risk.

Help those who may require special assistance, like the elderly or disabled.

Use local resources like the National Weather Service's 'Submit Storm Report' feature to report damage.

Remember, never drive through a flooded roadway as the depth of water can be deceiving and dangerous.

When reporting damage, be as specific as possible about the location and nature of the damage. This information is vital for emergency services to prioritize their response and for meteorologists to record and analyze storm impacts.

Avoiding Flooded Areas and Downed Power Lines

During and after a severe thunderstorm, one of the most critical safety measures is to avoid flooded areas and downed power lines. Flooded roadways can be deceptively deep, and vehicles can be swept away in just a few inches of moving water. It's imperative to remember: Turn around, don't drown. Never attempt to drive through a flooded roadway.

Downed power lines pose a significant risk of electrocution and should be avoided at all costs. Assume that any fallen wires are live electric cables and report them to the authorities immediately. Stay at least 35 feet away, as the ground around downed power lines may be energized.

In the aftermath of a storm, prioritize your safety by steering clear of areas that could exacerbate hazards. Helping those who may require special assistance, such as the elderly or disabled, is also essential, but ensure you do so without compromising your own safety.

If you find yourself outside during a storm and cannot reach a safe building, avoid high ground, water, and metal objects. Seek a low-lying area and crouch down, minimizing contact with the ground. After the storm, heed the advice of local law enforcement and the National Weather Service for updates and instructions.

Seeking Assistance and Resources

After a severe thunderstorm has passed, it's crucial to seek assistance if you've been affected. Local organizations and state agencies can provide support in the aftermath of the storm. For instance, following the deployment of additional state emergency response resources, as mentioned by Governor Abbott, individuals can access various forms of aid.

Contact local law enforcement or the National Weather Service for updates and safety information.

Reach out to community support groups like KUT for resources and volunteer opportunities.

Help those who may require special assistance, such as the elderly or disabled.

Remember to stay clear of downed power lines and report them immediately to ensure community safety.

For further information or to report damage, you can contact local news outlets, law enforcement agencies, or the National Weather Service. It's also advisable to keep an eye on updates from these sources during recovery efforts.


As we've navigated through the necessary precautions and safety measures during severe thunderstorm warnings in Austin, it's clear that staying informed and prepared is paramount. The recent severe weather alerts, including watches and warnings across Central Texas, serve as a stark reminder of nature's unpredictability. With the potential for large hail, damaging winds, and even tornadoes, the importance of heeding the advice of weather services and local authorities cannot be overstated. Remember to secure loose items, seek shelter indoors, and stay away from windows during a storm. By following the guidelines discussed in this article, you can ensure the safety of yourself and your loved ones during these intense weather events. Stay vigilant, Austin, and always prioritize safety when severe weather strikes.

Frequently Asked Questions

What's the difference between a severe thunderstorm watch and a warning?

A severe thunderstorm watch means conditions are favorable for severe thunderstorms in and close to the watch area. A warning means that a severe thunderstorm is occurring or imminent, and you should take immediate safety precautions.

How can I stay informed about severe thunderstorms in Austin?

Stay updated by tuning into local news, weather services, and the National Weather Service for the latest alerts and advisories. You can also use weather apps and social media for real-time updates.

What should I include in my emergency kit for thunderstorms?

Your emergency kit should include water, non-perishable food, a flashlight with extra batteries, a first-aid kit, a portable radio, necessary medications, personal hygiene items, and copies of important documents.

What should I do if I'm caught outside during a severe thunderstorm?

Seek shelter immediately, preferably in a substantial building. If no shelter is available, get into a vehicle, buckle your seatbelt, and try to drive to a safe location. Avoid trees, water, and high ground.

What are the signs of a severe thunderstorm approaching?

Signs of an impending severe thunderstorm include dark, often greenish skies, large hail, a large, dark, low-lying cloud (particularly if rotating), and a loud roar similar to a freight train, which could indicate a tornado.

How do I handle power outages during a storm?

During a power outage, unplug appliances and electronics to prevent power surge damage. Use flashlights instead of candles to prevent fire hazards. If you have a generator, use it safely and never operate it indoors.

by otoy04 | 2024-04-10 12:22 | News | Comments(0)


by otoy04