You look at the sky, it looks dark and threatening. You may wonder, “could this be a tornado?” In the spring and summer, you’ll see numerous tornado warnings for the eastern plains, including the far eastern portion of Douglas County.
Tornados are extremely rare in the Castle Pines North area, but not unheard of. In 2004, there was one tornado warning for our area. Was there a siren alert? No. Douglas County does not have a siren warning system in place, nor are there plans to install a system. Residents are advised to have personal warning systems (listed below).
While tornados are rare, lighting is not. In Colorado, lightning is the number one life-threatening weather hazard. During a typical Colorado summer, lightning kills three people and injures 15.
What can you do to protect yourself in a lightning storm?
Stay alert for fast-changing weather conditions. Storms can develop quickly, going from blue sky to a mature thunderstorm in as little as twenty minutes.
If you’re outside, it’s best to get inside a sturdy building. A hard top car with the windows shut is relatively safe. If neither of these options is available, avoid being the tallest object in the area, and stay away from other tall objects such as a small group of tall trees.
If you are inside, do not stand by open windows, doors or on patios during a thunderstorm. Unplug all unnecessary appliances and stay off the phone. How can YOU receive weather emergency warnings? While siren warning systems are used in some other portions of the metropolitan area, including Denver and Aurora, they are not used in Douglas County. Emergency officials advise everyone to have an emergency warning radio -- just like smoke alarms, no home should be without one. There are also other options for personal warning systems. Here is a list of options:
Emergency radios provide alerts and informaion for any type of emergency, including weather, flood, fire, hazardous material spills, terrorism threats, etc. In an emergency, the radio sounds an alarm, then broadcasts details about the emergency. The unit can remain silent unless there is an emergency. NOAA Weather Radios can be purchased for as little as $30. Key features to look for include: models that offer both AC power for routine monitoring, and battery backup for emergencies and portability, and “SAME” programming which lets you define specific geographic areas for warnings.
Computer programs. There are also several free or low-cost computer programs that can give you more specific information than you’ll find on radio or television. You can view radar maps, and weather conditions in several local areas, including Castle Rock and Highlands Ranch. Like the emergency radios, they sound an alarm when alerts are issued, which can be useful if you have a full-time internet connection.
Cell phone or mobile device alerts. Some cell phone or mobile devices can receive weather alerts.
TV and radio. Residents are also urged to tune in to local TV or radio stations any time that severe weather is approaching. A few new television sets can automatically turn the TV on whenever a warning is issued. Every household should have at least a batteryoperated radio, and optimally a battery-operated NOAA Weather Radio.