The City of Santa Rosa is prepared to adequately respond to the needs of our community if our area is impacted by severe weather and encourages residents to be prepared as well. We live in a region where the weather can change instantly and we encourage everyone to be aware of severe weather potential and to have a plan for all weather emergencies.
When severe weather threatens, monitor local television and radio stations for updates and warnings. Check this webpage often for updates if a weather watch or warning is issued by the National Weather Service. You can also follow the City of Santa Rosa and our Public Safety agencies on Facebook and Twitter for updates.
What To Expect When The National Weather Service Issues a Severe Weather Alert:
Warm weather-related Warnings, Watches and Advisories are issued by the National Weather Service. Here are definitions for the various types of warm weather alerts:
- Excessive Heat Warning: Take Action! An Excessive Heat Warning is issued within 12 hours of the onset of extremely dangerous heat conditions. The general rule of thumb for this Warning is when the maximum heat index temperature is expected to be 105° or higher for at least 2 days and night time air temperatures will not drop below 75°; however, these criteria vary across the country, especially for areas not used to extreme heat conditions. If you don't take precautions immediately when conditions are extreme, you may become seriously ill or even die.
- Excessive Heat Watch: Be Prepared! Heat watches are issued when conditions are favorable for an excessive heat event in the next 24 to 72 hours. A Watch is used when the risk of a heat wave has increased but its occurrence and timing is still uncertain.
- Heat Advisory: Take Action! A Heat Advisory is issued within 12 hours of the onset of extremely dangerous heat conditions. The general rule of thumb for this Advisory is when the maximum heat index temperature is expected to be 100° or higher for at least 2 days, and night time air temperatures will not drop below 75°; however, these criteria vary across the country, especially for areas that are not used to dangerous heat conditions. Take precautions to avoid heat illness. If you don't take precautions, you may become seriously ill or even die.
Warm Weather Tips
Hot temperatures can create a situation in which heat illnesses are possible. If any of these alerts are issued, drink plenty of fluids, stay in an air-conditioned room, stay out of the sun, and check up on relatives and neighbors.
Take extra precautions if you work or spend time outside. When possible, reschedule strenuous activities to early morning or evening. Know the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Wear lightweight and loose-fitting clothing when possible and drink plenty of water. To reduce risk during outdoor work, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends scheduling frequent rest breaks in shaded or air-conditioned environments. Anyone overcome by heat should be moved to a cool and shaded location.
Find more warm weather-related tips at https://www.ready.gov/heat.
Fire weather advisories are issued by the National Weather Service and mean warm temperatures, very low humidities, and stronger winds are expected to combine to produce an increased risk of fire danger. This also alerts fire officials to the increased risk for fire due to the weather conditions.
Here are definitions for the various types of fire weather advisories:
- Red Flag Warning: Take Action. Be extremely careful with open flames. NWS issues a Red Flag Warning, in conjunction with land management agencies, to alert land managers to an ongoing or imminent critical fire weather pattern. NWS issues a Red Flag Warning when fire conditions are ongoing or expected to occur shortly.
- Fire Weather Watch: Be Prepared. A Watch alerts land managers and the public that upcoming weather conditions could result in extensive wildland fire occurrence or extreme fire behavior. A watch means critical fire weather conditions are possible but not imminent or occurring.
- Extreme Fire Behavior: This means a wildfire is likely to rage out of control. It is often hard to predict these fires because they behave erratically; sometimes dangerously. One or more of the following criteria must be met:
- Moving fast: High rate of spread
- Prolific crowning and/or spotting
- Presence of fire whirls
- Strong convection column
What to do to prepare your family and your property for fire season
- Avoid mowing or trimming dry grass on a Red Flag Warning Day (Mow before 10 AM on a day when it’s not excessively hot and dry.
- Thoroughly extinguish all cigarettes and smoking material.
- Don’t pull over or park in tall dry grass.
- Use spark arrestors on portable gasoline powered equipment to avoid an accidental fire.
- Properly maintain vehicles to prevent starting fires along roads due to sparks or flammable materials being spit out from the catalytic converter system.
- Ensure trailer chains are secured and don’t drag on the ground.
- Keep your cell phone turned on at all times to receive emergency alerts.
- Sign up to receive emergency notifications at www.SoCoAlert.com. SoCoAlert will be used to send an emergency notification if there is an imminent threat to life or property.
- Have an evacuation and family emergency plan ready.
- The following resources offer guidance on preparing your home for fire season:
City Preparations for Emergency Response During Fire Season
During fire season, we want residents to be aware of the ways that Sonoma County public safety officials will be monitoring and responding to conditions in the field to help protect our community, including the use of advanced warning fire cameras, up-staffing firefighting resources during Red Flag Warnings, through the use of public alert and warning tools.
Red Flags Fly at all Fire Stations During Red Flag Warnings: The Santa Rosa Fire Department, along with fire agencies across Sonoma County, has implemented a new fire weather flag system to help increase community awareness during times of critical fire weather. If the National Weather Service issues a Red Flag Warning for the City’s Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) area and/ or any other impacted portion of the City, all City of Santa Rosa Fire Stations will fly a red flag throughout the duration of the weather event to signify to the community that the area is forecasted to experience critical wildfire weather conditions.
Advanced Warning Fire Cameras: Over the last year, a network of advanced-warning fire cameras have been installed in strategic vantage point areas throughout Sonoma County. The cameras are used 24/7 by fire and dispatch agencies to monitor fires in and around Sonoma County, and can also be viewed online by the public. The cameras will allow for greater advanced notice and situational awareness of a fire threat even when the fire starts in a neighboring jurisdiction. View the cameras at alertwildfire.org/northbay/
Up-staffing Fire Resources on Red Flag Days: During a Red Flag Warning, which signifies critical fire weather conditions, Sonoma County fire agencies now work in partnership to up-staff firefighters and fire-fighting equipment to actively patrol areas specified as high-fire risk areas during a declared weather event. This action will allow for quicker and more immediate onsite resources in the event of a fire threat.
Emergency Notification Tools: In the event of an emergency, the City will use multiple notification and warning systems to make sure emergency alerts are delivered to the people who need the information. It’s important that every resident is aware of these systems, is subscribed to the ones that require registration, and understands how each system works to deliver critical messages to recipients. Make sure you know your alerts: English | Spanish
The National Weather Service will issue a Flood Watch / Flash Flood Watch when conditions are detected that could result in flooding/flash flooding of a certain area. Persons in the watch area are advised to keep informed and be ready to take action if a warning is issued or flooding is observed. A River Flood Warning, or a Flash Flood Warning will be issued when flooding/flash flooding is imminent in a specific location. Persons in the warned areas are advised to take precautions immediately.
If you encounter a flooded area, it's important to remember the following:
- Do not drive through flooded areas especially at night when it is harder to gauge water depth. Consider the possibility that the roadway may have collapsed due to erosion. (You won't be able to tell, if the road is covered by water. You also might drive into a washout.)
- If your vehicle stalls due to water, abandon it immediately and seek higher ground. Rapidly rising water may sweep the vehicle and its occupants away.
- Be familiar with the surrounding land features and be prepared to head for higher ground if necessary.
- Stay tuned to NOAA Weather Radio and local radio and television for the latest statements, watches, and warnings concerning heavy rain and flash flooding.
- "TADD" - Turn Around Don't Drown
Winter weather-related Warnings, Watches and Advisories are issued by the National Weather Service. Winter Storm Warnings are issued for a significant winter weather event including snow, ice, sleet or blowing snow or a combination of these hazards. Travel will become difficult or impossible in some situations. Ice Storm Warnings are usually issued for ice accumulation of around 1/4 inch or more.
The Recreation & Parks Department operates several heated lobbies that are open to the public if citizens need a place to stay warm during the day, including:
- Finley Community Center, 2060 W. College Ave., M-F, 8am-6pm
- Steele Lane Community Center, 415 Steele Ln., M-F, 9am-5:30pm
If a winter weather warning is issued...
- Know your area’s risk for winter storms. Extreme winter weather can leave communities without utilities or other services for long periods of time.
- Prepare your home to keep out the cold with insulation, caulking, and weather stripping. Learn how to keep pipes from freezing. Install and test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors with battery backups.
- Pay attention to weather reports and warnings of freezing weather and winter storms. Sign up for your community’s warning system. The Emergency Alert System (EAS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio also provide emergency alerts.
- Gather supplies in case you need to stay home for several days without power. Keep in mind each person’s specific needs, including medication. Do not forget the needs of pets. Have extra batteries for radios and flashlights.
- Create an emergency supply kit for your car. Include jumper cables, sand, a flashlight, warm clothes, blankets, bottled water, and non-perishable snacks. Keep the gas tank full.
- Learn the signs of, and basic treatments for, frostbite and hypothermia.
- Stay off roads if at all possible. If trapped in your car, then stay inside.
- Limit your time outside. If you need to go outside, then wear layers of warm clothing. Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia.
- Avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Only use generators and grills outdoors and away from windows. Never heat your home with a gas stovetop or oven.
- Reduce the risk of a heart attack. Avoid overexertion when shoveling snow.
- Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia and begin treatment right away.
- Check on neighbors. Older adults and young children are more at risk in extreme cold.
RECOGNIZE and RESPOND
- Frostbite causes loss of feeling and color around the face, fingers, and toes.
- Signs: Numbness, white or grayish-yellow skin, firm or waxy skin
- Actions: Go to a warm room. Soak in warm water. Use body heat to warm. Do not massage or use a heating pad.
- Hypothermia is unusually low body temperature. A temperature below 95 degrees is an emergency.
- Signs: Shivering, exhaustion, confusion, fumbling hands, memory loss, slurred speech, or drowsiness
- Actions: Go to a warm room. Warm the center of the body first—chest, neck, head, and groin. Keep dry and wrapped up in warm blankets, including the head and neck.
Severe weather can happen anytime, in any part of the country. Severe weather can include hazardous conditions produced by thunderstorms, including damaging winds, tornadoes, large hail, flooding and flash flooding, and winter storms associated with freezing rain, sleet, snow, and strong winds.
Know your Risk
- Understand the type of hazardous weather that affects you and your family where you live:
- Develop an emergency plan based on your local weather hazards and practice your plan
- Make a family emergency plan
- Be informed about emergency alerts
The National Weather Service will issue the following when specific conditions are met:
- A Dense Fog Advisory is issued when widespread fog is expected to reduce visibilities to 1/4 mile or less over a large area for an extended period of time (2 or more hours).
- A Wind Advisory is issued when there is expected sustained winds of 31 to 39 mph for an hour or more AND/OR wind gusts of 46 to 57 mph for any duration.
- An Extreme Wind Warning is issued for surface winds of 100 knots (115 MPH) or greater associated with non-convective, downslope, derecho (NOT associated with a tornado), or sustained hurricane winds are expected to occur within one hour.