September 4, 2014 --
The sky turns from blue to dark gray in an instant with lightning striking the ground and rain pouring down and those individuals caught in it may be asking themselves what to do.
Truths and myths about thunderstorms called “Flash Facts about Lightning,” can be found on the National Geographic News’ website, http://news.national geographic.com.
Questions like “did you know that rubber shoes do nothing to protect you from lighting?” or “what does it mean if your hair starts to stand on end during a thunderstorm?” are answered on the website.
The National Geographic News describes lightning as “one of the leading weather-related causes of death and injury in the United States.”
Lightning accounts for 19 fatalities so far this year in May, June, July and August, across the United States, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Weather Service website, www.nws.noaa.gov, and NWS considers summertime as the peak season for lightning. It states, however, that people are struck year-round by lightning.
Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany’s installation emergency manager Steve Dancer emphasized paying attention to the weather so pop-up storms become less hazardous to service members, Department of Defense civilians, contractors and families working and living aboard the installation.
“If you can hear thunder, lightning can strike you,” Dancer said.
“During the summertime with the humidity and the way it interacts with the whole climatology piece is that (thunderstorms) do pop up, and when they do, (people) shouldn’t take them lightly,” he emphasized. “If it’s a pop-up thunderstorm, it’s probably something that’s going to be very violent because it’s a clash that’s going in the atmosphere that translates to coming down here.”
Dancer recommended people take precautions in the event of pop-up thunderstorms such as checking the weather at the beginning of the day and especially if travelling.
“They can sign up for weather alerts with the National Weather Service and get text messages when (there’s severe weather) like those thunderstorms rolling through,” he said.
Dancer also suggested people have in their homes a basic weather radio that transmits NOAA stations.
Other ideas he discussed include service members and DoD civilians signing up for AtHoc, Inc., a government information system, which the base’s Emergency Operations Center uses to provide alerts via email on government computers and government phones as well as cellphones.
AtHoc alerts are sent out for more severe weather here such as winds in excess of roughly 35 mph or tornado watches and warnings.
“It’s a requirement for all active-duty Marines to sign up for AtHoc,” Dancer said, noting service members may sign up their spouses.
To register for AtHoc, he said service members here should visit the Marine Corps Installations East website, www.mcieast.marines.mil, via government computer.
After opening the website, they should click on Emergency Management under Staff Offices and then click on MCLB Albany.
Once on the MCLB Albany page, click on the AtHoc Registration button on the right side and follow the instructions.
He noted that organizations around the installation to include tenant units were issued weather radios and should get alerts.
Along with receiving alerts, people who are traveling, working or playing outside when pop-up thunderstorms occur, should follow safety precautions, Dancer stressed.
“If you are outside near water, you want get away from water because it attracts lightning,” he said. “All it takes is a heavy downpour and you can have flash flooding. If you are driving along, you want to be aware of not only hydroplaning but flash flooding. Be aware of what’s going on around you. If you do get caught in (a pop-up thunderstorm), seek shelter as quickly as possible.”
Dancer added, “We (might) have thunderstorms throughout five days (of) the work week, but you should pay attention to them all. It’s not to the point of being so paranoid and impeding your ability to function, but being aware.”
For more information, visit www.ready.gov or call Dancer at 229-639-5746.