With next Monday the official start of spring, the National Weather Service says Collin County and the North Texas region is in store for a routine round of seasonal storms, but the agency and emergency officials both say the public must still be aware of the potential weather threats and be prepared for emergency situations.
“We expect showers and thunderstorms, of course, and though there certainly is the potential for them to become severe, there’s nothing that indicates we’re going to have a worse storm season than in past years,” National Weather Service Meteorologist Bianca Villanueva said. “With that said, you should still take the normal precautions.”
Villanueva said those living in the region should be ready for regular storms and rainfall, but also those that could turn severe with high winds, hail, flash flooding, extensive lightning and even tornadoes. The meteorologist said the area is subjected to strong storms due to it’s geography.
“You get this mix of cold air pushing south and southeast and then that warm air from the gulf moving inland,” Villanueva said. “When that clashes, that’s when we see a lot of that severe thunderstorm activity occurring in the central United States area.”
Villanueva encouraged families to identify multiple locations where members can safely ride out storms and advised motorists not to venture out in their vehicles when conditions are dangerous.
“Have a communication plan with your family,” Villanueva said. “Severe weather can occur at any time of the day. You may be at work and your kids may be at school, so your family might not be at home together. Know that you should seek shelter in a certain area that is away from exterior walls, doors and windows. You should also know not to drive through any flooding on roadways. Remember ‘turn around, don’t drown,’ because although that water may not look deep, it could be and it could be moving fast enough to take you and your vehicle.”
In the event that a dangerous storm system does hit, Collin County Emergency Management Coordinator Jim McCrone said the public can be ready to handle the conditions that follow with necessary supplies.
“We encourage people to have disaster kits,” McCrone said. “Those include food, water, a blanket and a change of clothes.”
McCrone said it’s also important to keep gas in your vehicle, some extra cash at hand, several days worth of needed medications available and important documents. He also encouraged insurance holders to know their policies and understand their coverage.
Collin County Emergency Management has prepared for spring storms with the recent creation of VOAD —Volunteers Active in a Disaster. The group is made up of multiple agencies and organizations throughout the county, including the Red Cross, Salvation Army, area churches and others. McCrone said the collection of responders will efficiently distribute aid and services in the event of an emergency situation and will be well prepared in the event spring storms unleash their worst.
“We actually talked about having an exercise with the members of our group to go through the scenario of a tornado and how we could work to respond better,” McCrone said. “We’re going to set that up and respond as if it were real. That way, if the day ever comes, we’re ready.”
McCrone said the group will do it’s best to prepare for such a scenario, but members the public need to be ready for the season’s storms themselves.
“A lot of these storm systems are incredibly broad,” McCrone said. “So as they’re coming through, everybody needs to be on their toes and accept some personal responsibility for themselves. Make sure you know what to do if the storm is coming.”