Staying aware means staying safe in severe weather

NEGAUNEE TOWNSHIP — With the sun shining and the snow melting, it’s time for Michigan residents to start thinking about a different kind of severe weather.

Governor Rick Snyder has proclaimed this week Severe Weather Awareness Week, the goal of which is to encourage Michiganders to prepare for severe weather before it strikes in the spring and summer. Whether its thunderstorms or flooding, residents should be aware of what to do if a weather emergency arises.

“We’re at a point now in 2015 — folks shouldn’t be caught off guard by significant weather,” said Matt Zika, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service Marquette office, “and so if people are planning trips for the upcoming weekend — camping, fishing trips — maybe they should start looking on Monday or Tuesday [for] what the weather forecast is going to be so when they do show up at the campground or what they’re going to do on the weekend, they have a plan in place or know what to do when the weather turns really bad.”

While tornadoes are uncommon in the Upper Peninsula, lightning and high winds associated with thunderstorms are two hazards U.P. residents face in the warmer seasons. For those enjoying the outdoors, finding a good place to take shelter from these hazards is key.

“Typically, their vehicles can provide adequate protection if we’re talking just lightning,” Zika added. “Unfortunately up here, with the campgrounds and state parks the way they are, there’s not always a hundred percent foolproof place for people to go to when those situations — if we’re dealing with very strong winds with the thunderstorms, but they should assess and look when they get ready to set up their campsite as to where a decent sheltering place should be in the event they have to go there.”

Residents can keep an eye on severe weather alerts in many ways these days, including through apps available for mobile devices.