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Damaging wind gusts hit Belvidere: remember to stay safe during severe weather

Damaging wind gusts were able to wreak havoc around Belvidere last Tuesday evening, July 7, 2020. Black Hills FOX News issued a tornado warning for eastern Pennington County when a doppler radar indicated a tornado just west of Wall had formed. A severe thunderstorm warning was held until 7:30 p.m. MDT for the areas surrounding Wall.
The wind gusts from the storm were successful in bringing down the Belvidere Park's shade structure as well as toppling a semi-truck just outside of Belvidere. Jackson County Sheriff Matt Haugen responded to the auto-accident around 6:38 p.m. Road signs located by the Belvidere interstate turn off also suffered damage as a result of the incredible wind speeds.
With the recent influx of severe weather, it is important to be prepared in every situation. The first steps to being prepared are knowing the differences between a watch and a warning. A severe thunderstorm watch means you need to be prepared. Be ready to take action if a warning is issued next. The watch area is usually large, covering counties and sometimes states.
A severe thunderstorm warning is when severe weather has been reported by spotters or indicated by radar. Warnings should be taken seriously as they are a threat to your life and property. A warning typically includes a much smaller area compared to a watch, think a city or small county. 
The National Weather Service has six tips you can use to prepare yourself as well as your loved ones from severe weather. 
Be weather-ready and check your local forecast often to stay informed about watches and warnings. Sign up for notifications and know-how each community you visit sends their warnings. Some, like Kadoka, use outdoor sirens, while others may have residents depend on local media such as a news channel or their community Facebook page. Create a communication plan with your family. Your plan should include an emergency meeting place and a safe room like a storm cellar or basement. Just like school drills, it is important to practice your plan regularly so everyone knows what to do if damaging winds or large hail approaches. Do not forget about pets if time allows. Prepare your home and make sure trees and branches are always trimmed so that they may not damage your home in case they turn into projectiles. Keep your doors and windows shut and move valuables into a sturdy structure. Encourage your neighbor to be prepared and maybe think of taking up a CPR training course so you can always lend a helping hand.
If you find yourself in severe weather, acting quickly is the best way to stay safe. Whether it is at your home, workplace, or school, make sure you are away from windows and avoid large open rooms. If you are outside, find a sturdy building. 
Remember, a safe building should not contain large open rooms, so sheds and storage facilities are off the table. Avoid trees, you don't want a tree on top of you! Trees are also infamous for being struck by lightning. Most lightning strikes occur in July and August according to the National Weather Service. When thunder roars, go indoors! 
If you are in a vehicle, you are already in a better position than if you were to be outside alone. This does not mean you are completely safe, drive to a secure shelter if there is time.
After the storm is over, make sure to contact your family and loved ones to help them know you are okay. Phone calls are great but social media posts or a simple text message is often the better form of communication. The next step is assessing the damage. If you see power lines down, contact the authorities, and stay out of damaged buildings. If you come across people that are injured and you are properly trained, provide aid to victims until an emergency team arrives. 
South Dakota weather is unpredictable, it is important to be prepared, ready to take action, and ultimately be ready to help your neighbor!

The Pioneer Review

221 E. Oak Street
Philip, SD 57567
Telephone: (605) 859-2516
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