Batten down the hatches: What you should know about high wind warnings

High winds can be both damaging and treacherous

Gusty winds can be not only inconvenient but also dangerous. That danger is amplified when they reach speeds that prompt high wind warnings.

While the criteria for such warnings can differ from one place to another, the actions you should take are the same.

Here’s what you should know about high wind warnings.

What is a high wind warning?

The National Weather Service will issue a high wind warning when winds are expected to pose a threat to life or property.

In general, a high wind warning is issued when winds not related to thunderstorms are expected to be sustained at 40 mph or greater for at least an hour, or above 58 mph at any time. That threshold is generally increased to 50 mph or greater in higher elevations.

What should I do when gusty winds are expected?

Whenever windy weather is expected, make sure any loose objects on your property are secured. This includes things such as patio furniture, umbrellas, grills, garbage cans and holiday decorations. There have also been instances of trampolines and bounce houses being lifted off the ground during gusty winds.

Strong winds can also knock down trees, so it is also a good idea to check the trees on your property and ensure they are in good health. Any dead limbs should be cleared away.

What should I do when a high wind warning is issued?

The safest place to be during high winds is indoors. If a high wind warning is issued, you should postpone any outdoor activities until the winds relax.

If you are outside during high winds, watch for flying debris. Things like tree limbs and even street signs can become loose and airborne during a windstorm and pose a serious risk to people who are outside.

In addition to bringing down trees, high winds can also take down power lines. If you come across a downed line, assume that it is electrified. Stay away, warn others to stay away and call for help. Also, avoid anything that the wire is touching, such as vehicles and tree limbs.

Driving can be extremely difficult during high winds, especially for high-profile vehicles such as semi-trucks and RVs. Drivers should slow down and keep both hands on the steering wheel. Keep a safe distance from other vehicles since gusts can push them outside their lane of travel. Also, watch for debris that may be blown onto the road.