Severe Weather Awareness Week Tips: Today is Tornado Day
This week is severe weather awareness week and we bring you tips from the Sedalia/Pettis County EMA Director, David Clippert and the National Weather Service. Better Country KIX 105, 92.3 Bob-FM and Newstalk 1050 KSIS prides ourself with weather coverage 24/7 from Weathereye and when watches and warnings strike we bring you the updates.
Severe Weather Awareness Week March 2rd through March 6th, 2015
Tuesday March 3rd: Tornado Day
According to the National Weather Service Pettis County has had a reported 33 tornados since 1950 with only 2 fatalities. I know that at least 7 have taken place since 2006! One of nature’s most destructive natural phenomena, tornados have wreaked havoc across the US the last few years, with one of the most devastating tornados striking Joplin on May 22nd 2011. Three days later an EF-2 struck Sedalia, thankfully we had no fatalities and no life threatening injuries.
Over the past few years we have seen (nation-wide) a decrease in the number of tornados, but an increase in the EF-5 category of winds over 200 MPH. April 3rd, 1974 saw a record 7seven EF-5 Tornados strike the central US. The last EF-5 Tornado in the US was in Moore, Oklahoma on May 20th, 2013.
So what can we do to protect ourselves? First and foremost is ensuring you have a way to receive a tornado warning. This has become much easier as technology has changed. Today, if you have a “smart phone” you may receive a message alerting you of a Tornado Warning. This is the Wireless Emergency Alert System, and the message comes from the National Weather Service. This service will also work throughout the country, and will alert you if you drive into a Tornado Warning. Although it looks like a text message, it actually is a radio signal.
Locally you can get warning messages through NIXLE. This is a text message based service provide by the Pettis County Sheriff’s Office. To receive these NIXLE messages go to www.NIXLE.com and sign up, or you can text 65301 to 888777 and follow the instructions. This is a free service, although receiving texts may generate a charge based on your cell phone service.
Our office also uses Facebook to provide information on the potential for severe weather and as it occurs. Search for Sedalia-Pettis County Emergency Management Agency and “Like” it.
NOAA All Hazards Alert Radios are a good back up to the above and will alert you in the middle of the night. More information will be available later in the week about various Tornado Warning devices.
So what do you do during a Tornado Warning?
IN HOMES OR SMALL BUILDINGS: Go to the basement (if available) or to an interior room on the lowest floor, such as a closet or bathroom. Upper floors are unsafe. If there is no time to descend, go to a closet, a small room with strong walls, or an inside hallway. Wrap yourself in overcoats or blankets to protect yourself from flying debris.
IN SCHOOLS, HOSPITALS, FACTORIES, OR SHOPPING CENTERS: Go to interior rooms and halls on the lowest floor. Stay away from glass enclosed places or areas with wide-span roofs such as auditoriums and warehouses. Crouch down and cover your head. Centrally-located stairwells are good shelter.
IN HIGH-RISE BUILDINGS: Go to interior small rooms or halls. Stay away from exterior walls or glassy areas.
IN MOBILE HOMES: ABANDON THEM IMMEDIATELY! Most deaths occur in cars and mobile homes. If you are in either of those locations, leave them and go to a substantial structure or designated tornado shelter.
IN VEHICLES: IF POSSIBLE, DRIVE AWAY! This may be the safest option when in a vehicle. You first need to determine the direction of the tornado and move in a direction away from the tornado. Remember many others may be attempting to move away also, so use extreme caution.
LAST RESORT: If travelling by vehicle and you cannot for whatever reason out run the tornado or there is not a suitable building available for you to take shelter. Face the front of your vehicle in the direction of the wind, lie down on the seat and tighten your seatbelt. Do not exit your vehicle to lie in a ditch.
PETTIS COUNTY STORM SHELTERS: We are lucky enough to have 9 FEMA approved storm shelters (or safe rooms) in Pettis County. Of those 8 belong to Pettis County and the 9th belongs to the Sedalia 200 School District. All shelters are opened during a Tornado Watch and they are all open to the public. Follow the link for detailed directions to each shelter: http://www.pettiscomo.com/shelters/shelters.pdf we highly recommend finding the shelter nearest you prior to any storm warnings.
No matter where you are, do some advance planning. Identify protective areas you can get to in a hurry. The key to tornado survival is to be prepared and to take immediate action when a warning is issued or when you spot a tornado. Remember, the actions you take during a tornado may save your life and the lives of your family.