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Bonnie Schneider

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Tornados And Tsunamis: How To Survive Extreme Weather

Posted: 02/01/2012 7:30 am

Snowstorms, tornadoes, floods, drought, wildfire, hurricanes... 2011 was an unforgettable year for extreme weather.

A record 14 weather and climate disasters filled the last year's calendar. Jack Hayes, the director of the National Weather Service says 2011 brought a steady variety of weather extremes he's never seen in four decades.

"We've had years with extreme flooding, hurricanes or snowstorms, but I can't remember a year with record breaking extremes in nearly every type of weather," he says.

Tornado outbreaks that were far reaching and deadly stand out. Last April and May tornadoes killed 552 people in the US. That made 2011 the second deadliest tornado year on record, tying it with 1936. It's hard to imagine the power of an EF5 tornado with decimating winds of over 200 mph. But that's exactly what communities such as Tuscaloosa, Alabama and Joplin, Missouri faced head on.

Some regions were plagued too much water -- like those along the Mississippi River -- and others too little - as in severe drought in parts of Texas. The combination of high temperatures, strong winds and dry conditions helped fan the flames of wildfires in the Southwest and Southern Plains.

As we move into the heart of the winter season, are you ready for the brutal blow of a blizzard? How about the threat of flood waters or the wrath of a tornado? There can be confusion on what to do and how to prepare for these dangerous situations. I wrote Extreme Weather (Palgrave Macmillan, $17.00) to help you and your family, including your pets, prepare for Mother Nature's worst.

As a TV meteorologist and avid social media user, I often receive questions from viewers about thunderstorms, tornadoes, snow storms and even tsunamis. Some people are fascinated by the science and others are interested in safety advice. Here are eleven types of extreme weather along facts and tips to guide you.

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If a blizzard is predicted, stay off the roads and stay indoors. There's good reason not to travel: roughly 70% of injuries due to ice and snow are the result of a vehicle accident, and about 25% occur when people are caught out in a storm unprotected. During a blizzard, the wind chill factor can be especially dangerous. A wind chill of -20 degrees F will cause frostbite in 30 minutes. When dressing for winter conditions, wear tightly woven, water repellent layers, and go with mittens instead of gloves. A dangerous health hazard of the brutal cold can be hypothermia. Warning signs include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness, and apparent exhaustion.
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Follow Bonnie Schneider on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@BonnieWeather