With two hurricanes slapping Coastal Georgia in recent years and a rare snow storm shutting down the area for a day just last month, emergency workers are putting extra emphasis on Georgia Severe Weather Week this week.
“Severe weather is no stranger to the state,” Larry Logan, deputy director of Liberty County Emergency Management Agency, wrote in an email about the week. “The first half of last year brought a very active weather season, with multiple rounds of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes.”
And, the forecast for today gives a 30 percent chance of rain and thunderstorms continuing into the weekend and rising to 50 percent on Sunday. If the weather doesn’t look too threatening the Georgia Emergency Management Agency and its affiliates such as LEMA will conduct a tornado warning test at 9 Friday morning.
Each day of this week is dedicated to a different weather related topic. The National Weather Service encourages everyone to learn about the dangers of severe weather and plan for when it strikes.
According to the NWS, all of Georgia is prone to tornadoes, which are most likely to occur from March to May with the peak in April. Tornadoes are also more likely to occur in the midafternoon to early evening. A tornado watch means conditions are favorable for tornadoes to develop, but there is not an imminent threat. A tornado warning means a tornado has been detected and is a threat.
If a tornado warning is issued, seek shelter preferably in a basement or small interior room closet, bathroom or hallway and stay away from windows.
The NWS reports that lightning is one of the leading causes of weather deaths in the United States. The NWS recommends to go indoors at the first sound of thunder. Stay indoors until 30 minutes after you hear the last clap of thunder. Severe thunderstorm could also bring damaging winds and can produce hail.
The mostly deadly hazardous weather is flooding, the NWS reports. The majority of those deaths happen when people get trapped in their cars that stall while driving through flooded areas.
The best way to be prepared for any severe weather is to get a kit, make a plan and stay informed.
A disaster kit includes items you may need during bad weather; flashlights, batteries, food and water for at least three days and a first aid kit. Develop a family plan on what to do during and after a storm. Stay informed by watching or listening to news and weather reports on the TV, NOAA weather radio and wireless emergency alert systems.
The NWS relies on information it receives from the public and storm spotters to generate reports. Those reports help the NWS verify warnings and help meteorologists better relate radar data with observed weather.
Logan said representatives from the NWS, Charleston Office will train weather spotters 6-8 p.m. Feb. 21 at the Liberty County Courthouse Annex.
The NWS created the SKYWARN Storm Spotter Program to improve warning services. It needs reports of hail size, wind damage, flooding, rain, tornadoes and waterspouts to warn the public of inclement weather. Even as new technology allows the NWS to issue warnings with more lead time, spotters will always be needed as links between radar images and what’s happening on the ground. Spotters generally have two things in common — an interest in the weather and a desire to serve their community.
To register for the class call LCEMA management specialist Robert Dodd at 368-2201, or email him at: Robert.firstname.lastname@example.org by Feb. 16.
To learn more about becoming a storm spotter visit: www.weather.gov/ffc/skywarn