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  Weather  Safety


Storm Survival Safety Tips

(Compiled by Climatologist Bob Lutz)





Avoid being a target for lightning by taking shelter in a strong building, automobile, or if out in the open, in a low lying area away from tall objects such as trees and poles.  If inside, stay away from windows and appliances, and stay off hard-wired telephones.


If you are boating and a thunderstorm approaches, head to shore as quickly as possible and seek shelter in a building. If you can't find a building, find the nearest cove, anchor.  Stay in the boat only if it is not the tallest thing in the immediate vicinity.   


Thunderstorms often produce heavy rain....If you are in an area which is prone to flooding, watch for rising waters and move to higher ground. If you are camping, stay out of ravines.


Do not walk along swollen creeks or river banks. The swift current usually weakens the banks which could give-way at anytime, sending you into the swift current below.




Stay inside if possible and wait until the storm subsides.  If you must travel, make sure you carry extra clothing, blankets,  high calorie food, water, matches, a first aid kit, shovel, sand, flashlight, tools, and tire chains.  If you get stuck in a winter storm, stay in your vehicle.  Keep the motor off, and only run it once in a while for heat.  Put the hood of your car up.  That will help rescue crews locate your stranded vehicle.


Extreme wind chill is the combination of sub-freezing temperatures and wind which increases the cooling and water evaporation  on your exposed skin.  During periods of extreme wind chill remember to dress in layers and cover exposed skin.  Stay out of the wind as much as possible by finding wind-protected areas


Use caution while walking.  Snow, blowing snow, and ice all make for hazardous walking conditions. The best thing to do is to take it SLOW.  Wear good gloves, boots and a nice warm hat.




Dress light and eat light. Avoid "drying" out by drinking plenty of water, even though you may not feel thirsty.  Stay away from foods high in protein if you will be spending lots of time out in extreme heat and remember to put on plenty of sunscreen.


Know the warning signs of heat stress and heat stroke which include: headache, fatigue, cramps, nausea, and confusion.  Profuse sweating at first, and then LACK OF SWEAT is a sure sign of heat stroke. At this point, your top priority is to cool your body temperature!  Get yourself to a cool area and get medical help immediately!




If you are caught outside in high winds, try to find shelter by getting into a wind protected area such as a grove of SMALL trees or a low lying area if there is no heavy rain.  Stay away from downed wires and watch for flying debris.


Secure outdoor items like lawn furniture and trash cans, and during extreme high winds, stay away from windows.  If you're in a boat and high winds strike, head to shore as quickly as possible, preferably before the wind kicks up large waves.




If you live in an area that is prone to wildfires, have a plan in place and be ready to act quickly.  Put your valuables in one location for easy access.  When fire threatens, it is important that you evacuate people and pets as soon as possible!  If you have time, grab those valuables, but remember the loss of life is much greater!  Material things can be replaced, so use common sense!




It is important to know your main sources of weather information while out boating - Newspaper, local radio and television stations.  Also, you can get the most current weather from a NOAA Weather Radio…. You can pick up this broadcast on most VHF units or you can purchase a special portable weather radio. Spokane frequency is 162.40 MHz and in the Sandpoint and Coeur d’Alene area the frequency is 162.44 MHz.  On the internet, the most current severe weather info can be found  HERE.


Some of the more serious weather problems which may affect boaters on Inland  Northwest waters include



FOG and HEAVY RAIN will greatly reduce your visibility. SLOW DOWN and pay extra attention to the surface of the water. In dense fog, sound your vessels' horn once in awhile.


WIND is a major problem on Inland Northwest waters…..It can rapidly whip up large waves and swells and create dangerous boating conditions. Again, slow down and take large waves at a 45 degree angle to avoid capsizing and stay out of shallow water where waves are breaking.


THUNDERSTORMS pose the greatest risk while boating. These storms are capable of producing all kinds of nasty weather such as heavy rain, strong down-draft type winds, hail and dangerous LIGHTNING! If a thunderstorm approaches, GET OFF THE WATER FAST!!


KNOWLEDGE may save your life! By keeping yourself informed on the latest forecasts, you can avoid being caught in dangerous situations. Listed below are some common weather makers and what they typically produce during the summer months here in the Pacific Northwest...


COLD FRONT: Area of colder air overtaking a warmer air and typically the fastest moving front and the one most capable of producing violent weather. This is the best producer for THUNDERSTORMS in our area! During any storms, EXPECT heavy rain, strong gusty winds, possible hail, and dangerous lightning. Severe thunderstorms are also capable of producing winds over 57 mph, large hail, and isolated tornadoes.


WARM FRONT: An area of warmer air overtaking a cold air mass….EXPECT a lot of clouds, fog, and drizzle or light rain, but usually not a lot of wind.


LOW PRESSURE: An Area of inclement weather. EXPECT showers and possible thunderstorms, gusty southwesterly winds, and cooler temperatures.


HIGH PRESSURE: This is the most docile weather pattern. It is a “bubble” in the atmosphere which serves to block most major storms from moving in. EXPECT fair weather and light winds from either the NE or SW. If a storm moves close to the high pressure center, winds could become gusty at times.



 ~ For More Storm and Severe Weather Safety Information, Click on the Links Below ~

 Weather Safety Info by AAA State of Play

 Angie's List Weather Safety & Preparation

(A special THANK YOU to "Alex" & "Barbara" for finding these Additional Storm Safety Links)