How the NWS prepares for potential severe weather, like what's expected on Thursday


    WILMINGTON, Ohio (WKEF/WRGT) -The National Weather Service in Wilmington is the only weather service office in the Tri-State area to launch weather balloons.

    A radio is tied to the latex balloons that are filled with hydrogen or helium, and they're released twice a day. During this part of the year, that happens at 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.

    Because of Thursday’s severe weather threat, the NWS said they plan to send an extra one up at noon. Those balloons fly for about two hours reaching 100,000 feet, measuring temperature, humidity, pressure and wind speed and direction.

    All of that is necessary data when forecasting.

    “If the observations are bad, the forecast is going to start off bad, and so observations are the most important thing we do here,” Observant Program Leader James Gibson said.

    Collecting data from where the system is coming from is also important.

    “For example if we want to see what might be here tomorrow, we will look further south and west to see what’s going on today, because that type of environment is going to be moving our way in the next 24 hours,” National Weather Service meteorologist Kristen Cassady said.

    Their goal is to inform and protect.

    “We try to let everyone know what’s happening as soon as we know it and as soon as possible, so we know they have time to prepare ahead of time,” Cassady said.

    The National Weather Service will have a team of meteorologists on standby Friday to survey any tornadic damage if needed.

    If you do find yourself caught up in a storm, you should have an emergency kit put together in case the power goes out. You should have a gallon of water per person per day for at least 3 days, at least a 3-day supply of non-perishable food, a battery-powered weather radio, a flash light with extra batteries and a first aid kit.

    If you're at home when severe weather hits, get to your basement. If you don't have one, go inside a closet or bathroom on your lowest level. Getting under a sturdy table or beneath a staircase in a windowless room is also safe.

    For those who may be in a mobile home, they need to get out immediately and find a nearby shelter. Don't hide under the trailer, because the storm could pick it up and drop it back on top of you. Parks may have a community room or office you can use for shelter, and if that isn't an option, take cover in a ditch as far away from the homes as possible.

    Experts also say you should never try to outrun a tornado in your car. Get out of your vehicle immediately and take cover in a ditch. You should never take shelter under a highway overpass, because the winds of a tornado could actually pick up in a confined space.

    You can find more information about weather safety on this website.

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