For many in Georgia, the beginning of March means that spring is on the way, with its warm temperatures, blue skies and soft lofty clouds – a welcome image after enduring a snowstorm last January that shut down activities in many parts of the state, and the subsequent intensely cold temperatures that held rein throughout much of the winter. But, be warned that spring also can bring out Mother Nature’s dark side, as witnessed yesterday, which can wreak havoc on communities, cost our economy hundreds of thousands of dollars and even claim lives.
Today is the beginning of tornado season, which we at GEMA/Homeland Security take seriously since in recent years, numerous tornado records have been broken in our state. For instance, Hurricane Katrina brought 18 tornadoes to Georgia in 2005, the most tornadoes ever reported in a single day in August. In March 2008, a tornado touched down in downtown Atlanta, becoming a first in Georgia’s tornado history. I witnessed the damage these storms wrought first-hand – trees broken in half like toothpicks, cars tossed like toys and homes turned into a piles of debris. Those who have experienced the fury of a tornado know well the destruction of which they are capable. And for those who haven’t, the topic of tornado preparedness may seem a little distant from your daily top priority lists. So, in brief, here are the facts about tornadoes and tips on how can you and your family ready.
Know the Facts:
- Tornado season officially lasts from March through May, but tornadoes can form at any time of the year, and at any time of the day.
- Tornadoes are more frequent between 3:00 p.m., and 9:00 p.m., due to cold and warm air rising.
- One of five tornadoes strikes with little or no warning.
- Tornadoes are almost always a part of a thunderstorm system.
Know the Warning Signs:
- Dark ominous skies that have an almost greenish hue or tinting.
- Loud roar, similar to an oncoming freight train.
- Low-hanging wall cloud, appearing as though the cloud bank drops off at steep edge.
- Hail or heavy rain followed by a dead calm or a fast, intense wind shift.
And Get Prepared:
- Create a profile to generate a custom Ready kit checklist and family communications plan so you and your loved ones will know what you need, how to shelter in place and how to reconnect if you are separated during the disaster.
- Include a NOAA Weather Radio in your Ready kit, for official news, alerts and instructions as they become available. Know the terms: a tornado Watch means a tornado is possible in your area; a Warning means a tornado has been spotted in your area, and you need to take shelter immediately.
- Make sure everyone knows where to go if a tornado Warning is issued (basement or interior hallway)
So enjoy the beautiful weather that we’re sure to see soon, but make the time to prepare so that you can relax, knowing that you and your family are ready for the unexpected this season.