Severe Weather Preparedness Week begins


NEW BERN, Craven County - Governor Roy Cooper has declared March 5-11 Severe Weather Preparedness Week and urges North Carolinians to prepare and practice safety plans in case severe weather strikes.

North Carolina is traditionally an active tornado and severe thunderstorm state and while severe weather can occur at any time of year, spring is the most active season.

"We're about to hit peak severe storm season and we need to be ready for anything Mother Nature sends our way," Governor Cooper said in a press release. "Know the risks, have a family emergency plan in place, and stay alert to weather reports to help keep you and your loved ones safe."

Schools and government buildings statewide will hold tornado drills this Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. to practice their emergency plans. Test messages will be broadcast on National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather radios and the Emergency Alert System.

"I urge everyone to participate in the statewide tornado drill and take the time to practice what you'll do when severe weather inevitably strikes," Cooper said.

Unfortunately, North Carolina is no stranger to severe weather. In 2016, the National Weather Service (NWS) issued 61 tornado warnings for North Carolina and recorded 16 tornadoes. There were 121 flash flood warnings issued last year and 121 incidents of flash flooding across the state, many of which were associated with Hurricane Matthew. In addition, the NWS issued 697 severe thunderstorm warnings, and recorded 827 incidents of severe thunderstorms with damaging winds and/or large hail. Numerous severe storms, flash flooding, tornadoes and hurricanes caused severe damage and loss of life.

Tornadoes form during dense 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 having a plan in place will allow you to quickly respond.

Emergency Management officials recommend the following safety tips:

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.

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