It's Severe Weather Awareness Week and a statewide tornado drill is slated for 10:00 Wednesday morning. Tornado sirens will be sounded during the drill and the emergency alert system will activate.
The National Weather Service says tornadoes cause an average of 60-65 fatalities and 1,500 injuries each year. They say they can produce wind speeds in excess of 200 mph and can be 1 mile wide and stay on the ground over 50 miles.
The National Weather Service says being prepared is key. They say you need to have a plan in place that you and your family has practiced. You need to know where to take shelter in a matter of seconds. You'll also want a pre-determined place to meet after a disaster. Flying debris is the greatest danger in tornadoes; so store protective coverings like a mattress, sleeping bags and thick blankets, in or next to your shelter space, ready to use on a few seconds' notice. Also when severe weather is possible you'll want to turn on local TV, radio or NOAA Weather Radio and stay alert for warnings.
When the storm has passed stay away from power lines and puddles with wires in them; they may still be carrying electricity. Also watch your step to avoid broken glass, nails, and other sharp objects. Stay out of any heavily damaged houses or buildings; they could collapse at any time. Do not use matches or lighters, in case of leaking natural gas pipes or fuel tanks nearby.
Experts say tornadoes can form quickly and without a lot of warning. They say there is no substitute for staying alert to the sky. Besides an obviously visible tornado, here are some things to look and listen for.
The National Weather Service says watch for:
Strong, persistent rotation in the cloud base.
Whirling dust or debris on the ground under a cloud base -- tornadoes sometimes have no funnel.
Hail or heavy rain followed by either dead calm or a fast, intense wind shift. Many tornadoes are wrapped in heavy precipitation and can't be seen.
Day or night - Loud, continuous roar or rumble, which doesn't fade in a few seconds like thunder.
Night - Small, bright, blue-green to white flashes at ground level near a thunderstorm (as opposed to silvery lightning up in the clouds). These mean power lines are being snapped by very strong wind, maybe a tornado.
Night - Persistent lowering from the cloud base, illuminated or silhouetted by lightning -- especially if it is on the ground or there is a blue-green-white power flash underneath.
Since severe weather can happen at any time, the National Weather Service says you should be familiar about what to do if you need to take cover in different places.
Whether you're home, in your car, our outside when a storm hits you should know what to do. The National Weather Service says the safest place to be is an underground shelter or basement, far away from windows. If you are in your basement be aware of where heavy appliances are above you because they could fall.
If you can't get to a basement then pick a windowless interior room or hallway on the lowest level of a sturdy building. Try to cover yourself with a mattress or thick blankets.
When it comes to mobile homes, experts say they are not safe in tornadoes. They say you are safer to get out and try to get to a sturdy shelter.
If you're caught outside try to get to a building. If you're in your car buckle your seat belt and try to drive to the closest sturdy shelter. However, experts say if you're driving and debris starts flying pull over and park. You can then either stay in your car, put your head down and try to cover yourself with something, or if you can get lower than the road get out of your car, and lie in that area covering your head.
For more information click the link on the left side of your screen.
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