Sam Askew, Campus Carrier managing editor
Katelynn Singleton, Campus Carrier editor-in-chief
The weather has become increasingly severe, from the polar vortex that struck the country during Christmas weekend to the extreme rain and weather that occurred on the first week of classes. As climate change continues, one can expect similar, and according to some climate scientists, harsher weather to be more frequent. The increase in temperature has caused hurricanes to be harsher, droughts to be more frequent and extreme temperatures to be more deadly. Knowing what to do and where to go in these scenarios is essential, as they won’t be going away any time soon.
As spring and summer quickly approach, it is important to remember that even very high temperatures can be just as damaging as a hurricane, tornado or any other visible weather event. Hot temperatures can lead to many health problems if one is not prepared to deal with it. People with heat-related illnesses are more susceptible to have heat strokes. It is extremely important to stay hydrated, which is the default answer when anyone considers high temperatures. However, there are a couple other steps that can be taken to prepare oneself for heat waves. One thing is to make sure that there is nothing in your car that can be damaged by the heat. This includes living things, obviously. Groceries, candy and drinks that are left inside vehicles during heat waves might possibly melt or even explode. Also, pacing yourself while you walk between classes and wearing loose, lightweight clothes may also help you to endure the heat. Taking cold showers to cool down also is beneficial, especially if you find yourself with some spare time between afternoon classes. The biggest thing, though, is to stay inside as much as you can and limit outdoor time to a healthy amount.
As we all know, Georgia weather can be a bit unpredictable. Even if winter is supposed to end around mid-March, Georgia is no stranger to a sudden cold snap. Cold can be incredibly dangerous if one doesn’t take the proper precautions. To be considered “extreme” cold, the temperature has to have dropped noticeably below normal. For people from the South, that might be right around freezing, whereas Northerners might consider it to be in the negatives. Especially after the polar vortex that occurred over Christmas, it’s important to know how to keep yourself, and your home (or dorm), safe. In cases of extreme cold, it’s best to adjust your schedule to avoid being outside for extended periods of time. Reach out to professors and see if they’re holding class on Zoom or doing other forms of online class. To make sure your water pipes don’t burst or freeze, try to let your faucets drip. If your family has outdoor pets, make sure they bring them inside. Remember the phrase, “if you’re cold, they’re cold.” Just because they have fur doesn’t mean they’ll be safe from freezing temperatures!
With the spring season comes rain, like the old saying “April showers bring May flowers.” With heavy amounts of rainfall in the spring, flash floods are a danger that often goes unconsidered. A flash flood is defined as a quick, sudden flood caused by heavy rainfall. These floods often come without notice and can become very dangerous very quickly. Keeping yourself on top of weather warnings, including flood warnings, will go a long way in being prepared for flash floods. Because it is structured around several rivers, Rome is prone to flooding. On Berry’s campus, floods often show up in different ways. Sidewalks get flooded, roads are covered in puddles and socks get wet. It is important to remember that during a flood the current if often stronger than it looks. If you see a rushing flow of water, do not approach it or try to cross it. According to ready.gov, an official preparedness website of the United States government, it takes just six inches of water to knock a person down. Depending on the type of flood, you may be told to evacuate or take shelter. In either case, do not ignore warnings. Floods, although they seem unlikely, are a force to be reckoned with.
According to the National Weather Service, tornado season peaks during the months of March, April and May. Tornados form from severe thunderstorms and can bring winds in excess of 200 mph. When considering tornados, it is helpful to understand the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning. A tornado watch means that conditions are ideal for a tornado to form, while a tornado warning means that a funnel has been sighted in the area. Under a tornado warning, you may be told to go into a hallway or room without windows and crouch with your head in your hands. Do not take these warnings lightly. Stay away from windows and doors if possible. In preparation for a possible tornado, you should identify where your nearest shelter is and make a plan to evacuate to it if necessary. Signs of a tornado include a funnel shaped cloud and a roaring, train-like sound. If you see these signs, take shelter immediately. Do not come out until you have been alerted that it is safe to do so.
Hurricane season for the southeastern United States runs from June 1st to Nov. 30th. A hurricane, also called a cyclone, is a tropical storm in which wind speeds have reached 74 mph or more. One of the best things you can do to be prepared for a hurricane is to have an emergency plan in place. Much like a tornado, one should find their nearest shelter and have an evacuation plan. Recognizing warnings and alerts will go a long way in being prepared for potential hurricanes. In extreme cases, local officials may instruct you to evacuate your area. Do not ignore them. Gather your essentials and evacuate. Fortunately, Berry’s location is such that severe hurricanes usually have downgraded to tropical storms by the time they reach campus. This does not make them any less serious, though. Often downgraded hurricanes can cause heavy rains, severe thunderstorms or tornados in our area. Continuous high winds are synonymous with hurricanes, so it is essential to take necessary precautions to batten down your hatches when a hurricane is approaching.
It is easy to underestimate the seriousness of extreme weather preparation until it is too late and you are stuck in a dangerous situation. Utilizing these tips and taking necessary precautions can help protect you, your family, your pets and your friends. Pay attention to weather alerts and any official emails or alerts from Berry in order to stay safe during extreme weather.