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Spring Awareness Tips

Spring season can bring beautiful weather to the Denver-metro area. It is also the time when you should have a heightened awareness of potential hazards; tornadoes, flash floods, and lightning.
Keeping Informed:

  1. NOAA Weather Radio is one of the best means to receive updated weather watches and warnings. The National Weather Service recommends purchasing radios that include a battery backup and a tone- alert feature that automatically alerts you when a watch or warning is issued.
  2. Monitor KOA radio or other Emergency Activation System (EAS) stations for updated weather reports and official announcements.


Do not allow children to play around streams, drainage ditches or viaducts, storm drains, or flooded areas!

  • Inside: If ordered to evacuate or if rising water is immediate threat, leave immediately and get to higher ground.
  • Outside: Go to higher ground immediately. Stay away from small rivers or streams, low spots, canyons.
  • In a Vehicle: Do not drive through flooded areas, even if it looks shallow enough to cross. Water only one foot deep can displace 1500 pounds. Two feet of water can easily carry most automobiles.

Over 40 million lightning strikes occur each year in the United States. In Colorado, lightning is a significant natural hazard. A bolt of lightning is over 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit, and will strike twice in the same location. Lightning can branch off of trees, fences, poles, or tall objects to strike people. In addition, you do not have to be directly under a thunderstorm for lightning to be a threat. Lightning can strike several miles away from the thunderstorm. The peak seasons for lightning are spring and fall.

Lightning Safety Tips

  1. 1. Do not stand under or near an isolated tree or small group of trees.
  2. 2. If caught in an open area with no buildings nearby, seek refuge in a canyon (but be alert to flash flooding!)
  3. 3. If you feel your skin tingle or hair stand on end, drop to your knees and crouch. (lying flat on the ground will cause lightning to more easily pass through vital organs.)
  4. 4. If you're inside a hardtop vehicle, stay inside; this is one of the safest places to be in a thunderstorm.
  5. 5. Stay off all bodies of water.

  1. 1. Unplug all unnecessary appliances before a thunderstorm and lightning approaches
  2. 2. Do not stand by open windows, doors, or patios during a thunderstorm.
  3. 3. Do not use the telephone except in emergencies, because current can travel through the line.
  4. 4. Do not shower or bathe in a severe thunderstorm, because lightning can feed back into the plumbing system.
  5. 5. Stay away from indoor targets (i.e., stoves, washers, and televisions).

  • In Homes or Small Buildings: Go to the basement (if available) or to an interior room on the lowest floor, such as a closet or bathroom. Wrap yourself in overcoats or blankets for protection from flying debris.
  • In Schools, Hospitals, and Shopping Centers: Go to interior rooms and halls on the lowest floor. Stay away from glass enclosed places or areas with wide-span roofs such as auditoriums and warehouses. 
  • In High-Rise Buildings: Go to interior small rooms or halls. Stay away from exterior walls or glassy areas.
  • Mobile Homes: Seek substantial shelter or a designated tornado shelter. If none is nearby, lie flat in the nearest ditch (be aware of flash flood risks) or depression and use your hands to cover your face.

  • Severe Thunderstorm Watch - Means that conditions are favorable for thunderstorms to produce wind gusts to 58 mph or stronger and hail to 3/4 inch or larger in the watch area. These watches are normally issued for a 4 to 6 hour time frame.
  • Severe Thunderstorm Warning - Means that a severe thunderstorm has been detected by radar or a trained spotter. 
  • Tornado Watch - Means that conditions are favorable for tornadoes to develop. It is normally issued for 4 to 6 hours.
  • Tornado WarningMeans that a tornado has been detected by radar or a trained spotter.
  • Flash Flood Watch - Is issued when heavy rain may develop.
  • Flash Flood Warning - Is issued when flash flooding has developed or is imminent.
  • Urban and Small Stream Flood Advisory - Is issued when local flooding of small streams, streets, or low lying areas such as highway underpasses is occurring or imminent.


Contact Us

The Mayor's Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security

1437 Bannock Street, Room 3
Denver, CO 80202
Phone: 720-865-7600
Fax: 720-865-7691

Denver 311 Help Center
Call 3-1-1 | Outside Denver Call (720) 913-1311
Emergencies: 911
TTY Service: 720-913-8479