Tornado drill stresses preparedness


Staff Writer

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

A tornado drill today underscores the need for Twin Counties residents to be prepared for severe weather that can strike with little to no warning this spring.

Residents should participate in the annual statewide tornado drill at 9:30 a.m. to practice their emergency plan in case severe weather strikes Eastern North Carolina, said Brent Fisher, Nash County's assistant director of emergency management.

“Spring is quickly approaching and so is the potential for severe weather,” Fisher said. “Severe thunderstorms involve a variety of weather conditions such as hail, flash floods and tornadoes. These storms can develop so rapidly that having a plan in place beforehand is critical. The best way to prepare is to have a family emergency plan, assemble a supplies kit and stay alert by listening to local radio, television or a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration radio for information on severe weather.”

Schools and government buildings in Nash and Edgecombe counties will participate in the statewide tornado drill. The National Weather Service will broadcast the drill over NOAA weather radio stations and the Emergency Alert System.

“Practice makes perfect rings true when it comes to preparing for severe weather,” Fisher said. “The time you take now to prepare will make all the difference if and when disaster strikes. I encourage all county residents, businesses and organizations to participate in the drill.”

There were 85 tornado warnings and 30 recorded tornadoes last year in North Carolina. There also were 104 flood or flash-flood events; 561 severe thunderstorm warnings; 548 incidents of severe thunderstorms with damaging winds; and 102 damaging hail events in 2017, according to information from the National Weather Service in Raleigh.

The weather service issued two Tornado Warnings, 16 Severe Thunderstorm Warnings and one Flash Flood Warning last year for Nash County. The average lead time for severe weather and tornadoes was 20 minutes.

Fisher also said that severe thunderstorms can produce hail at least an inch in diameter, 58 mph plus winds or can produce a tornado.

Gov. Roy Cooper declared this week as Severe Weather Preparedness Week. He urged North Carolinians to prepare and practice safety plans in case severe weather strikes.

“Spring often brings strong storms to North Carolina and we need to take steps now to be ready,” Cooper said. “Know the risks, make sure your family has an emergency plan in place, and stay alert to weather reports to help keep you and your loved ones safe.”

Nash County Emergency Management officials recommend having a family emergency plan in place so all members know where to go, who to call and what to do during a disaster. Officials also recommend staying alert by listening to weather radios that broadcast National Weather Service alerts.

Local, state and federal emergency management officials recommend residents use the following safety tips:

■ Know the terms: WATCH means a tornado is possible. WARNING means a tornado has been spotted, take shelter immediately.

■ Know where the nearest safe room is, such as a basement or interior room that is away from windows and go there immediately if you hear or see a tornado.

■ If driving, you should leave your vehicle immediately to seek safety in an adequate structure. Do not try to outrun a tornado in your vehicle and do not stop under an overpass or a bridge.

■ If you are outdoors and there is no shelter available, take cover in a low-lying flat area. Watch out for flying debris.

■ Following a storm, wear sturdy shoes, long sleeves and gloves when walking on or near debris and be aware of exposed nails and broken glass.

Be aware of damaged power or gas lines and electrical systems that may cause fires, electrocution or explosions.