NC Severe Weather Preparedness Week: Severe thunderstorms, tornadoes

7 ways to stay safe during a tornado

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - It’s Severe Weather Preparedness Week in North Carolina, and schools and businesses will take part in weather awareness and drills to help better prepare for severe weather.

The National Weather Service and the North Carolina Department of Public Safety will be providing information through the safety campaign. Meteorological spring started March 1, and with the warmer weather soon arriving, it’s time to have safety plans in place.

Each day this week there are different severe weather topics which you can learn about, the risks, how to take action and how to prepare for them. Monday’s focus is severe thunderstorms and tornadoes.

Thunderstorms, storms that produce lightning and thunder, are often associated with rain, gusty winds and potentially hail. According to The National Weather Service, North Carolina sees about 40 to 50 thunderstorm days per year. About 10 percent of those are classified as severe.

To classify a thunderstorm as severe, it must produce winds of at least 58 mph, hail at least an inch in diameter and a tornado.

If conditions are favorable for a tornado to form, The National Weather Service will issue a tornado watch. This means that tornadoes are possible but with no immediate danger.

In tornado watch situations, you should still be aware of the atmospheric conditions and be sure to stay updated on your weather app, NOAA Weather Radio and your First Alert Weather team. A tornado warning means radar has indicated rotation in the thunderstorm or that one has been spotted.

A tornado is a rotating, funnel shaped cloud that extends from a thunderstorm to the ground. Tornadoes can cause severe damage to an area within seconds. They can spin up rapidly and can have little to no advanced warning, which is why it is essential to stay cautious of weather conditions during severe thunderstorm warnings and tornado watches.

The National Weather Service classifies tornadoes by the Enhanced Fujita (EF) Scale.

If a tornado warning is issued, here are some tips on how to stay safe and seek shelter:

If you’re in a home or building:

  • Go to an interior area on the lowest floor
  • Grab pillows or a mattress to cover your head and body, or use your arms
  • Stay away from windows

If you’re in a manufactured home:

  • Get out immediately
  • Mobile homes offer little protection
  • Go to a nearby, stable building or storm shelter

If you’re outside with no shelter:

  • Drive to the closest stable building to take shelter
  • If you’re in a car which is getting hit by flying debris, get into a low lying area and cover your head
  • Do not go to an overpass. These can act as a wind tunnel and make winds even stronger

North Carolina averages 26 tornadoes, three tornado fatalities and 39 tornado injuries each year, according to NWS. Most tornadoes happen during meteorological spring, and peak in April.

This is why it is essential now to have safety plans in place before any of these situations happen at your place of work, school, or back yard.

To find out more information about Severe Weather Preparedness Week, check out The National Weather Service’s website.

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