Severe storms around U.S. serve as reminder to stay prepared

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BISMARCK, N.D. - While weather phenomena can be beautiful and haunting to watch, they can also be deadly, so it's important to be prepared.

Grand Forks flood of 1997

Severe thunderstorms around the country have lead to massive deadly tornadoes. North Dakota is no stranger to strong storms.

Matthew Crabtree remembers a severe hail storm hitting Mandan just after the turn of the century.

"The water was all the way up to the doors of the car. We got to the apartment. We came back to Mandan to visit my parents to make sure everything was alright and it looked like someone took a machine gun out to the siding. It was a pretty crazy day," said Crabtree.

"Spring and summer, that's when our active storm track develops. Right now it's over the Southern Plains but that migrates farther north as the season goes on. The sun angles getting higher. We have more instability, more moisture is present in the atmosphere. Disturbances come through. That produces thunderstorms and hence, severe weather," said Kevin Lawrence, NBC North Dakota News chief meteorologist.

Just two years ago, a big thunderstorm brought high winds and major flooding, including in the 7th St. overpass, where cars actually tried to drive through and got stuck.

In strong storms or tornados, the Morton County emergency manager suggests getting to a basement or hallway. If you're driving, drive at a right angle away from it. If you're out in the open, get away from heavy objects. Finally, make sure to check with local media for the latest information.

"Well it's life safety, for yourself, for your family, just to ensure their safety," said Tom Doering, Morton County emergency manager.

Of course, spring snow storms, like this one in Denver, are always a possibility in North Dakota. Tyler Erickson remembers a Williston April blizzard.

"I know that after that snowstorm, we got two or three generators, a big container for fuel, stuff like that so we were always better prepared for it," said Erickson.

Whatever the weather event...

"Keep an eye to the sky when you're outdoors," said Doering.

And Doering says you'll be better prepared to avoid disaster this summer.

Morton County Emergency Management publishes a severe summer weather preparedness guide. For a the department's Facebook page, you can go to https://www.facebook.com/MortonCountyEM.