Weather Center

When You Should Stay Inside

By Mindy Baxter 3.14.13

Spring’s blooming flowers, longer days and warmer temperatures can also bring some of the year’s most dangerous weather in Texas.

Greg Carbin, who works for the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center, says common sense should rule the day when weather turns unpredictable, but these signs are a warning to stay safe indoors.

Sudden, unusual changes

Watch for sudden, unusual changes in the sky and air.

“You often hear people say they can feel it in the air,” Carbin says. “And the thing is, there’s truth in that. If it’s very humid and very warm at unusual levels in April or May, that can be a sign of a storm coming.”

Lighting and thunder

Watch for lighting and listen for rumbling thunder. One obvious sign you should stay inside is active lighting. Carbin says the southern states, including Texas, are more vulnerable to lightning fatalities, and each year people die from lightning strikes.

“Lightning is a sure sign not to be outside and exposed,” Carbin says.

Tornado sirens

Listen for tornado sirens and heed their warning. Tornados can form rapidly, and no set cloud pattern or sky color can reliably predict an approaching tornado.

“The weather can also form hours before a tornado comes,” Carbin says. So staying alert to official warnings is key.

Flash floods

Be on the lookout for sudden rainstorms that can bring flash floods. Carbin recommends watching for a hard and fast rain that stays in one place for a while.

“The weather has a way of letting us know, giving us signs,” he says. “But things can change rather quick, so staying alert to those signs is key.”

Particularly in the Hill Country of Texas in the summer, a storm cloud can sit over one area a long time, turning a dry creek bed into a vicious river in a matter of minutes. “People tend to underestimate the power of running water,” Carbin says. “Our motto is ‘Turn around, don’t drown.’ “

Extreme heat

Of all the weather to avoid, Carbin says heat can be the most dangerous. Carbin’s rule of thumb is that if temperatures hit 100 degrees by noon, it’s best to stay inside.

“Extreme heat can be incredibly dangerous, especially for those physically exerting themselves.”