Tips for campers when severe weather hits

Awareness is key, and maybe a weather radio too.

MINNEAPOLIS – As we enter prime camping season, we can not forget that severe weather will remain a very possible threat up until the tail end of summer.

“Severe weather season is really in its peak right now … May through June, and into July even,” KARE 11 meteorologist Laura Betker said. “And that’s especially tornado season as well. But this year in particular we’ve seen a lot of very strong winds, that have done tornado-like damage, or just as much damage as a tornado can do.”

Betker said awareness is a big part of keeping safe, especially outdoors.

“Knowing where you are is so important, that means knowing what county you’re staying in, because warnings are usually issued using the language of counties,” she said. “Also know what counties are surrounding you, especially the ones that are west or southwest because weather generally moves in that direction.”

There are also physical signs that make good cues.

“If you’re looking off to the west, and you see big towering clouds, that’s a sign that storms are forming and could be moving in your direction,” Betker said. “On a lesser time scale, if you see a big shelf cloud coming in your direction especially if you’re looking into the western direction, that would be more immediate, and you need to figure out where your safe space is.”

And according to Weather.gov, those spaces could be a storm shelter or basement, or the lowest floor of a study building.

The guide advises against getting in cars, but for non-tornado downbursts … it could be better than nothing as long as it is not parked near a tree.

A last ditch option would be finding an actual ditch or a culvert to protect your head and torso.

Of course, prevention is key; and Betker said a weather radio is a great option, just in case cell service is not available.

“Especially having a weather radio, maybe a solar charger, an extra charging pack for it will be key, to get to the information you need if storms do happen,” she said. “Where are they, what’s the timing for when they’re coming into your neck of the woods.”

Weather radios are available online, or often at hardware stores, or outdoor outfitters.

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