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Now's the time to prepare as severe weather season starts

READ MORE: Now's the time to prepare as severe weather season starts
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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- This week marks Severe Weather Awareness Week, and here in the Carolinas, there's plenty of weather we need to be prepared for.

We've seen far too many reminders recently that severe weather can strike at any time. But even as lead times for tornado warnings have improved greatly, disasters still occur, both across the country and here at home. The problem is not that there's no warning, it's that people are not heeding or often times even hearing the warning, especially at night.

"One of the big problems that we face, unfortunately, is is a warning useful if it's never heard? And of course we know the answer to that," said Steve Pfaff of the National Weather Service's Wilmington office. "That's a big challenge to us getting (the warning) to people, especially in North Carolina. We lead the way in nocturnal tornado fatalities. People are asleep. They don't have a weather radio. They don't have their TV on. The radio's not on. We can't get the warning to them."

Of course, this can have tragic consequences, like last year in Joplin, MO, or 2006 when a tornado hit Riegelwood around dawn.

Many of these fatal disasters can be prevented just by buying some simple equipment. A NOAA weather radio could save your life. It alerts you whenever there's a severe thunderstorm warning or tornado warning issued for your area, and it will wake you up in the event of a tornado.

As we enter peak severe weather season, you have a responsibility to get yourself prepared.

Identify the safest room in your home far away from windows, with as many walls between you and the outside as possible, have a plan for you and your family, arm yourself with a weather radio, and follow warnings when they're issued.

“It's just keeping a high level of situational awareness, making sure your family has a plan and don't assume that it can't happen to you,” Pfaff said.

As part of severe weather awareness week, there will be a statewide tornado drill Wednesday at 9:30 am. Schools and government buildings will test their plans as they would during an actual tornado.

Of course, our new StormTrack3 mobile app is another great way to keep yourself informed of severe weather at all times right in the palm of your hand.

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