I know we've had a long and weary winter and it's hard to think about the possibility of severe storms, tornadoes and flooding, but the season for those conditions is just around the corner.
This week (March 2nd-8th) is National Severe Weather Preparedness Week. As I preach again and again when I go out to talk to kids at our local schools, preparedness is key.
The week comes on the 2 year anniversary of the March 2nd tornado outbreak, which is one of the worst, if not the worst, in the mountains. It also comes in the same year of the 40th anniversary of the Super Outbreak of April 3rd, 1974, which is one of the worst tornado outbreaks of all time.
One of the events going on this week is the statewide tornado drill on Wednesday. The National Weather Service will issue a test Tornado Warning at 10:07am. It is not for actual severe weather, it's just a test.
Later this week, WYMT will be teaming up with NWS Jackson and Pike County Emergency Management to program weather radios at the Cassidy Boulevard Food City location in Pikeville. Weather radios are an important tool to have, especially at night when you're sleeping, because if set up right, will go off when warnings go out for your area.
Another big question that I always get: "What do I do after the warning goes out?" Great question. Here's the answer:
You should already have your emergency plan in place and ready to implement. You should actually start implementing it if a watch goes up or there is a chance for severe weather. A big part of your plan is having a safe place to go during severe weather and having a proper emergency kit put together.
Here's an easy 20 step guide from our friends at the Lake Cumberland District Health Department that shows how you can buy the things you need for a kit in just 20 weeks.
Also remember to keep any medicine that you will need in the event you get stuck somewhere for a couple of days, special things you might need for you or your kids, pet food and any important documents you may need.
Another thing I get asked is what is the difference between a watch and warning and which one is worse?
Here's the answer from the National Weather Service:
Indicates that conditions are favorable for the particular weather event in and near the Watch area, and which may pose a risk to life and property. Watches are issued up to 48 hours in advance with forecaster confidence around 50%.
Indicates that a particular weather event is imminent or occurring. Advisories are issued if the weather event will lead to nuisance conditions, while Warnings are issued for significant weather events which will pose a risk to life and property. Warnings and Advisories are issued up to 48 hours in advance with forecaster confidence of at least 80%.
Note: Watches and Warnings issued for Severe Thunderstorms, Tornadoes, and Flash Flooding have much shorter lead times, on the order of hours for Watches or even minutes for Warnings.
Another big event we deal with on a semi-regular basis here in the mountains is flooding. There is one word that we should all commit to memory and live by its message.
TADD (Turn Around Don't Drown)
That's as simple as it sounds. If you come across flood water, don't drive, walk, wade or swim through it. You don't know how deep it is or how fast it's moving. You can be swept away in seconds and help isn't always going to be able to make it to you in time.
The National Weather Service has a whole website dedicated just to TADD. Check it out:
I've covered the basics here, but there is so much more that goes into being prepared. NWS Jackson has a whole website set up with tips, loads of information and even lesson plans for teachers and games for kids. Check it out!
As always, you can email, Facebook and Tweet at the weather department if you have any specific questions that aren't answered here or on the NWS website.
firstname.lastname@example.org, Shane Smith WYMT 57 Mountain News (Facebook), @ShaneWYMT (Twitter)
email@example.com, Brandon Robinson WYMT 57 Mountain News (Facebook), @wymtbrobinson (Twitter)
firstname.lastname@example.org, Brandon Orr WYMT 57 Mountain News (Facebook), @BrandonOrrWYMT (Twitter)