Severe Weather Awareness Week starts, warning system test is this Thursday

Posted February 28, 2018 at 3:03 pm

Kentucky Emergency Management Severe Weather Awareness Week has been proclaimed for Thursday, March 1 through Wednesday March 7 across the Commonwealth.

In conjunction with the designation, an annual tornado drill, including the testing of outdoor warning sirens, will take place

Tornodo siren tests will be conducted (weather permitting) on Thursday, March 1 at 9:07 a.m. local time. However, according to Clinton County Emergency Management Director Lonnie Scott, in case of inclement weather on Thursday (such as thunderstorms, etc.), the test would be rescheduled for next Tuesday morning, March 6, also a 9:07 a.m. local time.

Although spring, which is usually the worst time for severe storms, does not officially begin for another three weeks, recent weather in February in Kentucky has been more spring-like and in fact, on this past Saturday night, Clinton and surrounding areas were either under a severe thunderstorm watch or warning and even tornado watch for much of the night.

The Kentucky and Clinton County Emergency Management offers the following information, including safety measures, to take before, during, and after a severe weather occurrence.

Tornadoes are nature’s most violent storms. Spawned from powerful thunderstorms, tornadoes can cause fatalities and devastate neighborhoods in seconds. A tornado appears as a rotating, funnel shaped cloud that extends from a thunderstorm to the ground with whirling winds that can reach 300 miles per hour.

Damage paths can be in excess of one mile wide and 50 miles long. Every state is at some risk from this hazard. Some tornadoes are visible while others are hidden in rainfall or low-hanging clouds.

Occasionally, tornadoes develop so rapidly that little, if any, advance warning is possible. Before a tornado hits, the wind may die down and the air become very still. A cloud of debris can mark the location of a tornado even if a funnel is not visible. Tornadoes generally occur near the trailing edge of a thunderstorm. It is not uncommon to see clear, sunlit skies behind a tornado.

— Before a tornado:

* To begin preparing, you should build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan.

* Listen to NOAA Weather Radio or commercial radio or television newscasts for the latest information. In any emergency, always listen to the instruction given by local emergency management officials.

* Be alert to changing weather conditions. Look for approaching storms.

* Look for the following danger signs: Dark, often grayish sky; large hail; dark, low-lying cloud (particularly if rotating); loud roar, similar to a freight train; if you see approaching storms or any other danger signs, be prepared to take shelter immediately.

Tornado Facts: Quick facts you should know about tornadoes:

* They may strike quickly with little or no warning.

* They may appear nearly transparent until dust and debris are picked up or a cloud forms in the funnel.

* The average tornado moves Southwest to Northeast, but have been known to move in any direction.

* The average forward speed of a tornado is 30 mph, but may vary from stationary to 70 mph.

* Tornadoes can accompany tropical storms and hurricanes as they move onto land.

* Waterspouts are tornadoes that form over water.

* Tornadoes are most frequently reported east of the Rocky Mounatins during spring and summer months.

* Peak tornado season is March through May.

* Tornadoes are most likely to occur between 3 and 9 p.m., but can occur at any time.

Know the terms:

* Tornado Watch–Tornadoes are possible. Remain alert for approaching storms. Watch the sky and stay turned to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio or television information.

* Tornado Warning–A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. Take shelter immediately.

* During a tornado, if you are under a tornado warning, seek shelter immediately. Most injuries are associated with high winds causing flying glass and debris, so remember to protect your head.

* Go to a pre-designated area such as a safe room, basement, storm cellar, or the lowest building level. If there is no basement, go to the center of a small interior room on the lowest level (closet, interior hallway away from corners, windows, doors and outside walls. Put as many walls possible between you and the outside. Get under a sturdy table and use your arms to protect your head and neck.

* In a high-rise building, go to a small interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible.

* Put on sturdy shoes.

* Do not open windows.

* Get out immediately and go to a pre-designated location such as the lowest floor of a sturdy, nearby building or a storm shelter. Mobile homes, even if tied down, offer little protection from tornadoes.

If you are not in a sturdy building, there is no single research-based recommendation because many factors affect your decision. Possible actions include:

* Immediately get into a vehicle, fasten your seatbelt and try to drive to the nearest safe sturdy shelter. If your vehicle is hit by flying debris while you are driving, pull over and park.

* Take cover in a stationary vehicle. Put the seat belt on and cover your head with your arms and a blanket, coat or other cushion if possible.

* Lie in an area noticeably lower than the level of the roadway and cover your head with your arms and blanket, coat or other cushion if possible.

In all situations:

* Do not get under an overpass or bridge. You are safer in a low, flat location.

* Never try to outrun a tornado in urban or congested areas.

After a tornado:

* Listen to local officials for updates and instructions.

* Check in with family and friends by texting or using social media.

* Watch out for debris and downed power lines.

* If you are trapped, do not move about or pick up dust. Tap on a pipe or wall or use a whistle, if you have one, so that rescuers can locate you.

* Stay out of damaged buildings and homes until local authorities indicate it is safe.

* Photograph the damage to your property in order to assist in filing an insurance claim.

* Do what you can to prevent further damage to your property (e.t., putting a tarp on a damaged roof), as insurance may not cover additional damage that occurs after the storm.

If your home is without power, use flashlights or battery powered lanterns rather than candles to prevent accidental fires.

Emergency Management officials also recommend people consider building “safe rooms” in your home for further protection. For more information on safe rooms, contact your nearest Emergency Management office or call 387-5917.