Natural Hazards

Hazards -> Natural Hazards

Severe Storms and Lightning

Residents in Mesquite are at risk from severe thunderstorms throughout the year, but the risk increases significantly in the spring months, especially from April to June. According to the National Weather Service, "The United States has the most active weather in the world with the Southern region having over half of all severe weather events."

Thunderstorms are actually small when compared with other weather creating storms. Most average storms are no larger than 15 miles in diameter and will last only around 30 minutes. In fact, the National Weather Service only classifies about 10% of the approximately 100,000 annual storms in the United States as severe. At any moment in time, there are around 1,800 occurring around the world!

Some important steps to remember if you see lightning include:

  • If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be struck by lightning. Take shelter immediately.
  • If a sturdy shelter is not available, stay low. Get inside a hard-top vehicle.
  • Do not lean against a car.
  • Move away from hills and high places. Avoid tall, isolated trees.
  • Do not touch metal objects, including tennis rackets, baseball bats, golf clubs, bicycles, fences or metal sheds.


Tornado

Often referred to as nature's most violent storms, tornadoes come in many sizes and shapes. Some are very strong and make the headlines, but many are not. The size of the tornado is not necessarily an indication of its intensity. Large tornadoes can be weak, and small tornadoes can be very strong.

Texas averages 125 tornadoes every year which is more than any other state. They can appear suddenly without warning and can be invisible until dust and debris are picked up or a funnel cloud appears. Twisters can occur at any time of year but spring and summer are considered tornado season around North Texas.

The following are some tornado safety tips:

  • Designate a shelter area in your home or place of business, such as a basement, and go there during severe weather.
  • If an underground shelter is not available, move to an interior room or hallway on the lowest floor and get under a sturdy piece of furniture.
  • Stay away from windows.
  • Little protection is offered from mobile homes. If a shelter is not available, get out and find the most low-lying area such as a ditch or ravine. Lay flat on your stomach and cover your head with your hands.
  • Don't try to outrun a tornado in your car--leave it immediately and seek shelter in a sturdy building.


Hail

As raindrops pass through a belt of cold air on their way to the earth, they freeze into small blocks of ice. Every year, hail causes over $1 billion in damages to property, vehicles and crops. The costliest hail event on record was recorded in Fort Worth in 1995.

Hail Storm Safety Tips:

  • If weather conditions are brewing for a storm, move cars, boats, RVs, and lawn and patio furniture into a covered area.
  • Seek shelter during the storm. High winds can make any size of hail dangerous.
  • Take caution if you are outside after a hail event because surfaces may be slick.


Flood

Flooding is the nation's most common natural disaster. It can happen in every U.S. state and territory. Development can occur slowly over an extended period of rainfall or quickly without any visible signs of it. Only six inches of fast-moving water holds enough force to knock over an adult. Only two feet will carry away most vehicles, even pickups and SUVs.

Flash flood safety tips:

  • Get out of areas subject to flooding, like dips, low spots, canyons, washes, etc.
  • Avoid already flooded and high-velocity flow areas--don't attempt to cross a flowing stream.
  • Avoid driving thorugh flooded roadways in case of a missing segment.
  • If your vehicle stalls, leave it immediately and seek higher ground.
  • Flood dangers can be multiplied at night when it's harder to see the dangers.
  • Watch out for streams or washes during threatening conditions.


Extreme Weather Conditions

There's nothing quite like heat in Texas! An extended period of extreme heat, a heat wave, often occurs with high humidity. Because of this, it can push the body beyond its limits. Heat-related illnesses range from heat cramps to life-threatening heat strokes. Young children, the elderly and those who are sick are more susceptible to extreme temperatures.

Heat safety tips:

  • Keep out of the sun as much as possible.
  • To stay hydrated, drink plenty of non-alcoholic and caffeine-free fluids.
  • Install window air conditioners snugly and insulate if needed.
  • Verify that air-conditioning ducts are properly installed.
  • Put weather-strips on doors and sills to keep the cool air in.


Winter Storms

A winter storm can freeze everything in Mesquite, including the economy. Nearly every American will face winter weather at some point during their lifetime. Freezing rain, snow and ice, even though they can be fun to play in, can also cause car accidents and hypothermia. Power lines can be knocked down for an extended period of time as well.

Winter Weather Safety Tips:

  • Wear several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing instead of one heavy layer. Make sure that outer garments are water-repellent.
  • Ensure that your heating source is working properly and that is well ventilated. It is important to be serviced regularly.
  • Avoid driving on overpasses and bridges. These often freeze more quickly than roads.
  • Winterize your car. Flush the cooling system, replace the coolant, the wiper blades, etc. Create a Go Kit for your car in case you are stranded.
  • Winterize your pipes by putting either insulation or newspaper and a plastic bag over it. Keep faucets dripping when the temperatures drop below freezing.
  • Make sure your animals have plenty of food and water along with appropriate shelter.


Earthquake

The earthquake, a sudden rapid shaking of the earth, is caused by the breaking and shifting of subterranean rock. There are 45 states and territories that are at moderate to high risk for earthquakes. Being impossible to predict, it is important to prepare ahead of time.

If you are located Indoors

  • Drop to the ground, take cover with a sturdy piece of furniture and hold on until the shaking subsides.
  • Steer clear of glass, windows, outside doors and walls and anything else that can fall.
  • Stay inside until the shaking subsides.


If you are located Outdoors

  • Stay there.
  • It is important to move away from buildings and wires. Many of the injuries and deaths come from falling debris.


If you are located in a Moving Vehicle

  • Stop as quickly as possible.
  • Avoid buildings and wires that may have a tendency to fall during the earthquake.
  • Proceed cautiously and watch out for roads that may have been damaged.