Spring and summer in South Dakota brings with it the possibility of severe weather, including maybe tornadoes. Severe thunderstorms can be destructive as well.

The National Weather Service keeps track of the weather and issues alerts when storms are on the way. Those alerts go out over the radio, TV and phones. Spring is a good time to review what some of those alerts mean and what to do if one is issued for your area.

From the National Weather Service:

Severe Thunderstorm Warning
Issued when there is evidence based on radar or a reliable spotter report that a thunderstorm is producing, or about to produce, wind gusts of 58 mph or greater, structural wind damage, and/or hail 1 inch in diameter or greater.

Severe Thunderstorm Watch
Is issued by the Storm Prediction Center when conditions are favorable for the development of severe thunderstorms over a larger-scale region. Tornadoes are not expected in such situations, but isolated tornado development cannot be ruled out.

Tornado Warning
Issued when there is evidence based on radar or a reliable spotter report that a tornado is imminent or occurring.

Tornado Watch
Is issued by the Storm Prediction Center when conditions are favorable for the development of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes over a larger-scale region.

And if there is severe weather? Here is some info:

  • The best defense against thunderstorms is to stay inside a sturdy building or shelter that can protect you from deadly lightning, large hail, damaging winds, flooding rain and tornadoes. Fortunately, thunderstorms typically do not last very long and will most often pass by your location in less than one hour.
  • Once in a shelter, stay away from windows and avoid electrical equipment and plumbing. Remember to bring pets inside. If there is time, secure loose objects outside as these objects often become dangerous flying debris in high winds.
  • Postpone outdoor activities until the storms have passed.
  • If caught outside, take shelter in a sturdy enclosed building or hard top automobile immediately. Avoid open spaces, isolated objects, high ground and metallic objects.
  • Get out of boats and away from bodies of water. Remember, if you can hear thunder, you are close enough to the storm to be struck by lightning

And in case of a tornado:

If a tornado is spotted, act quickly and move to the lowest level basement of your shelter, putting as many walls between yourself and the outside as possible.

Go here for more about tornadoes and go here for a lot more severe weather info.