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Tornado drill to test readiness

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BY LINDELL JOHN KAY
Staff Writer

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

The Twin Counties will be participating in the annual statewide tornado drill set for 9:30 a.m. today.

The National Weather Service in cooperation with local broadcasters will conduct the test on all NOAA weather radio and public alert systems.

This will allow schools, business and residents the opportunity to practice their tornado drills and safety plans, said Brent Fisher, assistant director of Fire and Rescue and Emergency Management for Nash County Emergency Services.

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

Every school, business, workplace and family across the state is strongly encouraged to participate in the statewide tornado drill.

“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.”

The drill is part of the state's Severe Weather Preparedness Week.

Here are a couple key things to remember about Wednesday's statewide tornado drill:

■ The drill will be broadcast on NOAA Weather Radio and the Emergency Alert System via the Required Monthly Test. There will not be an actual Tornado Warning issued.

■ The drill and test will take the place of the routine weekly NOAA Weather Radio Alert test.

■ Some NOAA Weather Radio receivers do not sound an audible alert for the test product; instead, they may have a blinking light on the display to indicate that a test was received. When the test for the statewide tornado drill is initiated at 9:30 a.m., there is a good chance that many NOAA Weather Radios may not sound an alarm.

There will be no follow-up statements issued by the NWS to mark the end of the drill. The drill will be over when your group, school, business, organization or family feels it has adequately practiced their tornado shelter procedures.

All week, the National Weather Service and the state Department of Public Safety are teaming up to highlight severe weather safety.

With warmer weather quickly approaching, now is the time to prepare for the severe weather season. State and local emergency officials are asking residents to take a few moments this week to visit Department of Public Safety’s preparedness website at readync.org. On this web page visitors will find an abundance of information and links to a free cell phone app that will help you plan and prepare for the severe weather season, Fisher said.

In 2018, the NWS issued 104 tornado warnings for North Carolina and recorded 20 tornadoes. There were 184 flood or flash-flood events across the state. In addition, the NWS issued 605 severe thunderstorm warnings and recorded 137 incidents of severe thunderstorms with damaging winds or hail.

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 alerts from the National Weather Service.

Emergency officials recommend residents use the following safety tips:

■ Know the terms: Watch means a tornado is possible. Warning means a tornado has been spotted and to take shelter immediately.

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

■ If driving, leave the vehicle immediately to seek safety in an adequate structure. Do not try to outrun a tornado in a 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.

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