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Severe Weather Awareness Week: Are you prepared?

Spring-time brings warmth, flowers, and frees us from the grip of winter - but it often brings tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, and flash floods too. Yes, it is the peak season for severe weather not just in North Carolina but in much of the country, and it's a key time to revisit your plans in case emergency hits home. 

This week of March 3rd through March 9th is Severe Weather Awareness Week in North Carolina. The National Weather Service does a great job reminding what needs to be done to be ready for whatever Mother Nature throws our way. Here are some of the key points: 

Know Your Risk:

We face a wide variety of severe weather in the Carolinas! Here are some key stats:

  • NC averages about 60 t-storm days/year. 
  • In the last few years alone, hail damage has totalled $100 million in NC
  • There have been 20 lightning fatalities in the last 10 years in NC.
  • Tornadoes are a real threat, particularly in the spring months. The I-95 corridor faces the highest historical risk for tornadoes, whereas the coast sees far fewer.

Have a Plan:

Some severe weather will strike with only a moment's notice, and it's vital that you have a plan in place BEFORE it hits so that your family knows what to do

  • Have a way to receive severe weather info (NOAA Weather Radio, TV, StormTrack 3 Mobile App, Etc)
  • Inform your family/friends when severe weather is headed their way - they may not know!
  • Set up emergency contacts for you and your family in case you are separated
  • Identify a "safe place" within your home that will offer maximum protection in the event of high winds or a tornado.
    • Lowest floor of your home
    • Avoid windows
    • Avoid exterior walls

The safest room in your home may be something you wouldn't expect, like a bathroom! Keep in mind you want to put as many barriers between yourself and the elements as possible. 

Build a Kit:

When severe weather strikes, you may need to make it on your own for a while without the aid of utilities. We see this so commonly with hurricanes. An emergency kit can be a life-saver if you're put in this situation unexpectedly. 

Some of the highlights on what you should have in your kit include:

  • Water; 1 gallon per person, per day.
  • Food; a 3 days supply of non-perishable goods. 
  • Flashlight with batteries.
  • Prescription medications you may need. 
  • Important insurance documents in a water-safe bag. 
  • And much, much, more. 

Please take 5 minutes and head to this site to build you own kit that will suit your family: www.ready.gov/basic-disaster-supplies-kit

Stay Alert with a NOAA Weather Radio:

In a perfect world, people would see weather radios the same way they see smoke detectors. It is a necesary alert system for your home to make sure you know a tornado is headed your way if you are asleep. Simply put, these things wake you up when a storm is in your area!

They're a cheap purchase, typically $20 or less at stores like Wal-Mart or such. Any brand is fine as long as it has the "NOAA Weather Radio" feature on the box. 

In today's world though, your smart phone can be transformed into a mobile weather radio. Our StormTrack 3 Weather App will alert you to severe weather warnings where you are, and apps like the iMap Weather Radio has all the features of a weather radio at your finger tips. 

The point is, there is no excuse to not hear the warning of severe weather heading your way anymore. Meteorologists across the country have improved lead time on warnings drastically in the last few years through new technology, but that completely goes wasted if the warnings aren't received by the public. 

For more resources on Severe Weather Awareness Week, please head to this webpage put together by the Wilmington National Weather Service. They do a great job working to keep us safe with great weather information, and largely do so behind the scenes. We appreciate them a lot!

I had the priviledge of speaking at a TED event in New Jersey late last year about Hurricane Sandy. In my talk, I made a simple point that as meteorologists, our goal is to save lives. I didn't think this was groundbreaking, but to my surprise many people came up to me afterwards and said that they never thought about weather information that way. The truth is, that's how important severe weather information can be in an emergency situation. The info is there, make sure you're taking advantage of it to protect you and your family this year!

- TB 

By: Tim Buckley

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