Remain cognizant of inclement weather

Published 9:28 am Friday, May 6, 2016

Western Tidewater got the slightest taste of Mother Nature’s power on Monday and Tuesday nights.

Powerful thunderstorms pushing northeast through Hampton Roads and the Peninsula delivered hail, strong winds and torrential downpours strong enough to cause minor damage and even knock out the lights for thousands of Virginia Power customers.

While Western Tidewater avoided any catastrophic results, the storms should serve as a reminder of how important it is to keep up with weather alerts and be prepared for the worst — especially as we head toward the summer and fall hurricane season.

Weather alerts that flash across television screens and, increasingly, assert themselves as buzzes or beeps on mobile phones, are not to be ignored. Instructions to move to a safe spot should be heeded with dispatch, as some of these spring storms move with the speed and power of a locomotive.

Better to spend 10 minutes in the basement or an interior closet without incident than to ignore the warnings and spend 10 days in the hospital when the storm damages your home and catches you off guard.

It’s also a reminder that now is a good time to check for spare flashlight batteries around the house, stock up on some bottled water and non-perishable foods and consider developing a true disaster plan, including evacuation routes and meet-up points for the family.

The 2016 Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30, is expected to be about average, according to a forecast by the Tropical Meteorology Project of Colorado State University. Oddly, compared to the past couple of seasons, average would represent an increase in storm activity.

Either way, though, it takes only one big storm — or even a little one that hangs around for a while or comes on the heels of long periods of unusually wet weather — to cause problems in Western Tidewater, as well as the rest of Hampton Roads. One of these days, it’s likely those problems will be significant.

Take steps today to make sure you’re ready for that day. Every time the power goes out, think of it as a reminder of what you should be doing to prepare for something much worse than an inconvenience.