Author: Brian Haines
This time of the year, many North Carolinians are preparing their flowerbeds and gardens for the spring showers that will help the flowers and vegetables grow. As beautiful as spring is in North Carolina, it is also the most active season for severe weather like thunderstorms and tornados. In addition to working on their gardens, North Carolinians are also encouraged to be proactive and prepare for severe weather
To help you prepare, Gov. Roy Cooper declared March 7 - 13 Severe Weather Preparedness Week in North Carolina. This is a perfect time for you and your family to have an emergency kit and a safety plan in case severe weather strikes and to practice this plan in case it is needed.
In 2020, the National Weather Service (NWS) recorded 609 severe thunderstorms with damaging winds; 54 also had hail at least 1-inch or larger. These events occurred on top of 247 flood events, of which 181 were flash flood incidents.
In February a deadly tornado tore through parts of Brunswick County, severely damaging homes, businesses and electrical infrastructure. Sadly, three people lost their lives and 10 people were injured.
The NWS also recorded 48 tornado touchdowns last year. Tornadoes form during severe thunderstorms when winds change direction and increase in speed. These storms can produce large hail and damaging winds that can reach 300 miles per hour. A tornado can develop rapidly with little warning, so have a plan in place that will allow you to respond quickly.
To help you prepare, practice your emergency plans and participate from home or work in an annual tornado drill today (Wednesday, March 10) at 9:30, or at any time that works best for you. If you want to join in the statewide drill, follow the instructions from the NWS as it broadcasts test messages on weather radios and the Emergency Alert System.
North Carolina Emergency Management officials recommend the following safety tips to prepare and respond to severe weather:
- Develop a family emergency plan so each member knows what to do, where to go and who to call during an emergency.
- If thunder roars, go indoors! Lightning is close enough to strike you.
- Know where the nearest safe room is, such as a basement or interior room away from windows.
- Know the terms: WATCH means severe weather is possible. WARNING means severe weather is occurring; take shelter immediately.
- Assemble an emergency supply kit for use at home or in your vehicle. Make sure to include a 3-day supply of non-perishable food and bottled water.
- If driving, leave your vehicle immediately to seek shelter in a safe structure. Do not try to outrun a tornado in your vehicle and do not stop under an overpass or bridge.
- If there is no shelter available, take cover in a low-lying flat area.