Awareness week focuses on severe weather

By Argen Duncan: PNT senior writer

Thunder crashes, the wind rages and hailstones fall. What do you do?

With severe thunderstorm season just beginning in eastern New Mexico, the area could experience high winds, hail, flooding, lightning strikes and sometimes tornadoes.

Jesus A. Haro, warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Albuquerque, said the season runs from April through June.

This week is New Mexico Severe Weather Awareness Week.

Portales Police Capt. Lonnie Berry said officers handle one or two weather-related problems during thunderstorm season. These issues might include wind damage, lightning strikes or power outages.

Thunderstorm season follows hard on the heels of the windy season, which runs from mid-February through April and also causes problems, Berry said.

“During the windy season, we’re pretty much used to something happening,” he said.

In late July or early August, floods may also occur, Berry said.

Haro said his main concern in eastern New Mexico is severe thunderstorms and the elements they bring.

The meteorologist recommended that people monitor local television and radio stations for weather alerts during thunderstorm season and buy National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather radios. Those radios turn themselves on to give severe weather notifications and are available for $20 to $40 at Wal-Mart and Radio Shack stores.

“Thunderstorms are always unsafe,” Haro said.

When people hear thunder, he said, they should go inside because of the risk of lightning strikes, the number one