Severe Weather Awareness Week - Friday: Floods

Severe Weather Week: Flash Flood Friday
Published: Mar. 21, 2022 at 7:34 AM EDT|Updated: Mar. 25, 2022 at 12:28 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Severe Weather Awareness Week runs from March 20-26 and aims to help broaden the conversation about emergency preparedness.

Some questions to ask yourself and your family during the week may include:

  • What constitutes severe weather?
  • Do I/we have a plan? Where will I/we go?
  • Do I/we know the alert systems in the area?
  • How will we communicate?

The News 10 First Alert Weather team will tackle a topic each day this week to help you stay informed on what to do – and what not to do – during severe weather.


Floods can happen faster than many think, so it’s important to be knowledgeable about your home and prepare accordingly.

Know how many feet your property is above and below possible flood levels in your area. When predicted flood levels are aired on the news, you can determine if your home may be flooded.

Signs of a flood include heavy rainfall, high river or lake levels, and dams in the area.

  • 6″ of water can reach the bottom of most passenger vehicles. When this happens, loss of control and engine stalling are possible. It is also enough to knock a person down.
  • 12″ of water will cause many vehicles to float.
  • 24″ of rushing water will carry away most vehicles, including SUVs and pickup trucks.

For more information on flood preparation, click HERE.


It’s recommended that every vehicle has an emergency supply kit in it. The kit should be checked every six months so expired items can be replaced.

The National Safety Council (NSC) has detailed lists for emergency preparedness in the event of a tornado, fire, or flood.

First aid kits, emergency kits, and other items can be found and purchased on Items of note include a hand crank AM/FM/NOAA Weather radio with phone charger, a hand crank radio/LED flashlight, oral hydration salts, and emergency drinking water.

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) recommends that pet owners create disaster plans and emergency kits for their pets. The kit should include food and water, any medications or medical/veterinarian information, and restraints such as leashes, harnesses, and carriers.

You can find a printable Pet Emergency Preparedness Kit Checklist HERE.

Do you have an emergency kit at home in case of severe weather? What about in your car? Do you have one for your pets? We go over what is needed in each one!

Wednesday’s topic is tornadoes. A tornado is likely what most people think of when they hear “severe weather” in Michigan.

Members of the First Alert Weather Team share some tornado facts, safety tips, and explain the difference between a watch and a warning -- in a pretty ‘sweet’ way!

Tornado facts, safety tips, and the difference between a watch and a warning.

But how do they form? What is the rating system used for them?

A tornado is likely what most people think of when they hear “severe weather” in Michigan.

Strong winds can do damage to homes, trees, and other property. If wind speed increases, it could be a sign of a thunderstorm.

What’s the difference between wind speed and wind gusts?

The National Weather Service (NWS) defines wind speed as a snapshot of the sustained wind speed in knots for the hour. Wind gusts are defined by NWS as a quick but sudden increase in wind speed.


The largest hailstone recorded in Michigan was found in both Livingston and Macomb County in 1978. The NWS said the stones that July day measured 4.5 inches, about the size of a grapefruit. The most recent exceptionally large hailstone was found in West Branch in 2015, measuring 4.25 inches, between softball and grapefruit size.

In our area, it was June of 2004 in Jackson County when a 4.25 inch stone was found.

Get more information on wind and hail in the video and photos below!

What's the difference between wind speed and wind gusts? How is hail formed? Meteorologist Justin Bradford has the answers!
How is hail formed? What are the varying sizes of hailstones recorded? We got the answers here!

Michigan’s Top 5 largest hailstones (in inches)

  • July 26, 1978: 4.5
    • Livingston County
  • July 26, 1978: 4.5
    • Macomb County
  • March 27, 1991: 4.5
    • Kalamazoo County
  • June 9, 2004: 4.25
    • Jackson County
  • Aug. 2, 2015: 4.25
    • Near West Branch, Ogemaw County

Signs of impending thunderstorms include rain, dark skies, lightning, and increased wind speed.

If your area is placed under a severe thunderstorm watch, close all windows and blinds, secure outdoor objects that can be blown away such as garbage cans and patio furniture, make sure cellphones and other wireless communication devices are fully charged to monitor local weather and news while taking shelter, identify the safest area in your home (it should be on the lowest level and away from windows and doors) in the event a watch becomes a warning.

Terms to know:
  • Severe Thunderstorm Watch:
    • A severe thunderstorm is likely to occur in your area.
    • Monitor local media and listen to your NOAA weather radio for updates and further information.
  • Severe Thunderstorm Warning:
    • A severe thunderstorm is occurring in the area.
    • Seek shelter immediately.
Take a quiz with Darrin and Maureen on what to do during a thunderstorm!
What's the difference between a watch and a warning?

For more information on what to do during thunderstorms and lightning, click HERE.

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