Preparing for Severe Weather

With severe weather season upon us, here are some important steps to stay safe.

Alex Haug

It’s springtime in Nebraska, and along with budding flowers and warmer days comes a higher risk of severe weather.  Storms capable of producing tornadoes, large hail, high winds, and even flash-flooding conditions are possible throughout the coming months, so here are some helpful tips to stay prepared:

  1. Pay attention to your local National Weather Service (NWS) office’s alerts.  These are sent out via NOAA weather radio, mobile apps, local broadcast radio (NOT satellite or iHeart Radio), social media, and their website,  Here are some common alerts you might hear:
    1. ADVISORY: an advisory is a way for your local NWS office to put out certain information such as AMBER alerts, fire weather warnings, and wind chill notifications.
    2. WATCH: a weather watch indicated there is an enhanced possibility for a certain condition.  This means you should avoid unnecessary travel, remain indoors, tune into a local broadcast radio station or turn on your NOAA radio, and most importantly have a plan for if severe weather were to occur.
    3. WARNING: a weather warning means severe weather is imminent or occurring.  If a weather warning goes out, immediately take shelter.  For tornadoes and high winds, you should be in an internal room with no windows on the lowest floor of the building.  DO NOT GO OUTSIDE.  If you are in a vehicle or mobile home, go to the nearest shelter.  Do not stop underneath an overpass to protect yourself from hail.
  2. Know what to do if a warning is issued:
    1. Lightning:
      1. Have a lightning safety plan
      2. Postpone activities if lightning is spotted
      3. Get to a safe place – fully enclosed buildings with wiring and plumbing
      4. Do not use a corded phone except in an emergency
      5. Keep away from electrical equipment and plumbing
    2. Floods
      1. Stay informed.
      2. Get to higher ground if you are in a flood prone area.
      3. Obey evacuation orders, if you are told to evacuate, do so immediately.  Lock your home, if time allows disconnect utilities and appliances.
      4. Practice electrical safety: do not go into water if covering outlets or wires.
      5. Avoid flood waters: water can sweep you off your feet and cause your vehicle to float.  DO NOT DRIVE INTO FLOOD WATERS.
    3. Severe Thunderstorm:
      1. At home: go to your secure location, take pets if time allows
      2. At school: stay away from windows, do not go into large rooms such as cafeterias, gymnasiums, or auditoriums
      3. Outside: go inside a sturdy building immediately, taking shelter in a shed, storage building, tent, or under a tree can be deadly.
      4. In a vehicle: drive to the closest secure shelter if there is sufficient time, however, being in a vehicle is safer than being outside.
    4. Tornado
      1. Stay weather ready: continue to listen to NOAA weather radio
      2. At home: go to your basement, safe room, or an interior room away from windows.  Bring pets if time allows.
      3. At school: follow your tornado drill and proceed to your tornado shelter location quickly and carefully.  Stay away from windows and avoid large, open areas.
      4. Outside: seek shelter inside a sturdy building immediately.  Sheds, storage buildings, mobile homes, and tents are not safe.
      5. In a vehicle: drive to the closest shelter.  If you can’t make it to a safe shelter, get down in your car and cover your head, or abandon your car and seek shelter in a ditch or ravine.
  3. Know where to go for information:
    1. NOAA Weather Radio: you can purchase a weather radio at most local stores or online.  Many consumer-grade two way radios also have the NOAA channels built in.
    2. Local Broadcast Radio: local FM channels subscribe to NWS alerts, severe weather warnings are automatically sent out.  These alerts are NOT sent out through satellite radio or the iHeart Radio application.
    3. Local Broadcast Television: most news channels will default to weather coverage during times of enhanced weather risk.  Broadcast television will also send out


The National Weather Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration publish severe weather readiness information, view it on their website:

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