It may still be chilly outside but in a matter of weeks, we may be dealing with severe thunderstorms, hail, flooding or even tornadoes! This is severe weather awareness week in Michigan. WKAR’s Reginald Hardwick talked with WLNS 6 News meteorologist Erik Kostrewza about the hazards, starting with flooding.
Kostrewza: Occasionally, flooding can happen in a matter of couple hours. Especially if we have a lot of rain in a short amount of time. What we always talk about and try to hit home with is turning around if you approach roads that are covered in flood water because one you never know how deep the flood water is and if it is deep enough your car could be submerged and your car could be taken away by the current and that puts you in incredible danger.
Hardwick: We’ve always had a history of tornadoes here and even large track tornadoes here in Michigan, tell me about that.
Kostrewza: So over the last several years, we've seen our fair share of tornadoes across Michigan. It is not uncommon to have several in the state. Now, they are usually spaced out a little bit more than the tornado outbreaks that you see down to the south. But you know we see severe weather pick up in the month of April and getting actually more frequent when we head closer to May, June and July, that’s usually our peak severe weather season across the area.
Hardwick: When we have a severe weather storm warning, what does that include?
Kostrewza: When we have a severe weather storm warning it can include anything from strong winds greater than 50 MPH, hail greater than a quarter size which is about an inch, and then it can also include frequent lightning, heavy rainfall not more specific to those damaging wings and large hail. As the storms do roll through, heavy rainfall is also a potential factor, lightning is also a potential factor. Even if we do have a severe thunderstorm warning, you never want to let your guard down because tornadoes can spin up very quickly so you want to make sure your inside and safe as the storm continues to push on through.
Hardwick: And then when a tornado warning is issued, what does that include and what should people do?
Kostrewza: When a tornado warning is issued, that means there is a good sign that a tornado is likely going to form whether on radar or whether they’ve seen damage being reported throughout that storm as it passed through counties previously or they’ve seen reports or heard reports that a tornado is on the ground. So you want to make sure that you are in the lowest interior room. Preferably a basement, but if you do not have a basement make sure you go into a closet or a bathroom. Anywhere away from windows and make sure you stay safe and let the storm move on through before you venture on out to see if any damage had occurred.
Hardwick: There is a statewide drill in a few days. So Erik, what should people do when they hear the storm sirens?
Kostrewza: So that drill is on Wednesday, I believe it is at 1:00PM. The sirens are going to go off statewide. Get a plan in place, make sure you have a plan in place for Wednesday and make sure you treat it like a real tornado warning. So go into that interior room, go into the basement. Wait a few minutes, make sure you take your family down there. If the family is at home, I know its during portions of the day where the kids will probably be at school. The schools are all going to make sure the kids know their tornado plan for all of the schools.
Hardwick: Well thank you Erik Kostrewza, you can see him weekend mornings and evenings on WLNS 6 News. Thank you for joining us.
Kostrewza: Thank you for having me.
Reginald Hardwick, WKAR News.