June 24, 2011

News Release

For Immediate Release

Heat, Lightning & Flooding Highlighted in Summer Weather Safety Week

The Springfield-Greene County Office of Emergency Management, the Springfield-Greene County Health Department and the National Weather Service are highlighting the hazards of high heat, ultraviolet rays, lightning and flooding in recognition of Summer Weather Safety Week, June 19-25.

"It's appropriate to be talking about summer weather safety with weather we've already experienced this season and next week's forecast of temps in the 90s," said Ryan Nicholls, Director of the Springfield-Greene County Office of Emergency Management. "We are not strangers to extreme heat, lightning or flooding, and it's important to review how to stay safe."

Prolonged exposure to high heat, combined with humidity, can test the body's ability to keep itself cool. Young children, elderly and chronically ill people are particularly susceptible to becoming overheated and developing heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Last year, 17 Missourians died from heat-related disorders.

The National Weather Service issues advisories when the heat index — a combination of heat and humidity — reaches 105 degrees. A warning will be issued when advisory criteria is expected to reach advisory levels for four straight days, or when the heat index climbs to 110 degrees and the overnight heat index fails to drop below 75 degrees.

To avoid heat-related illness in high heat, follow these tips:

Summer is the peak season for cloud-to-ground lightning strikes, which killed 29 Americans last year. In 2011, there have been six lightning-related deaths already, including Riverside Officer Jeff Taylor, who was assisting in the Joplin tornado response.

Lightning can strike up to 10 miles away from where it's raining, so if you hear thunder, you are within striking range. To stay safe during lightning conditions, the National Weather Service encourages people to remember the phrase, "When thunder roars, go indoors," and to follow these tips:

Flooding has already impacted much of Missouri this year. The most common flooding hazard is driving into low-water road crossings, although pedestrians may also be easily knocked off their feet by rushing floodwater.

"Despite repeated warnings to 'Turn around, don't drown,' we continue to conduct multiple water rescues during flooding events, primarily due to folks driving across flooded roadways," said Nicholls, who advises these tips:

For more information about summer weather hazards, visit these websites:

For additional information on heat hazards, call Karen McKinnis, Environmental/Community Health Planner with the Springfield-Greene County Health Department, at 417-864-1623. For additional information on lightning and flash flooding, call Ryan Nicholls, Director of the Springfield-Greene County Office of Emergency Management, at 417-869-6040; or Steve Runnels, Warning Coordination Meteorologist with the National Weather Service, at 417-863-1456, ext. 726.

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Office of Emergency Management

Public Safety Center • 330 W. Scott St. • Springfield, MO 65802
417-869-6040 • greenecountymo.org/oem