Severe Weather Awareness Week

awareness_weekFebruary 14-19 is Severe Weather Awareness Week in Alabama. There are many ways to be prepared for severe weather. Knowledge and advanced planning is the best way to stay safe during storms. Make sure you know what part of Tuscaloosa County you live in and that you can point to your location on a map – this helps you know if you’ll be impacted by incoming storms. Also, know the difference between a severe weather watch and a warning. A WATCH means that conditions are favorable for severe weather to form – be alert. A WARNING means that severe weather is occurring or about to occur – take action! Below is a summary of this week’s awareness topics:

Monday: Severe Thunderstorms

  • A severe thunderstorm has a wind gust of 58 MPH or greater and/or hail 1” or more in diameter (about the size of a quarter).

  • Stay safe by seeking shelter inside a sturdy building and avoiding doors, windows, and electrical equipment.

Tuesday: Lightning

  • Lightning is dangerous in ALL thunderstorms, regardless of whether they are severe or not.

  • Lightning can strike as far as 10 miles away from a parent thunderstorm.

  • Stay safe by seeking shelter in a well-constructed building and staying away from electrical appliances.

  • When thunder roars, go indoors!

Wednesday: Tornadoes

  • Peak tornado season in Alabama is March-May, with a secondary season in November, but tornadoes can happen any time of the year.

  • Most tornadoes that occur are EF-0 or EF-1.

  • Stay safe: in homes or small businesses – go to the basement or an interior room on the lowest floor, away from doors and windows. In mobile homes – leave your mobile home and take shelter in a sturdy building or storm shelter. In a vehicle – get out and find a sturdy shelter, or if there is not one nearby, get to a low spot and cover your head.

  • Do not seek shelter under overpasses or inside vehicles. Cars are not safe places to be during tornadoes.

  • Most tornado injuries/deaths occur from flying debris. Always cover your head during tornadoes to protect yourself from debris.

Thursday: Flooding and Flash Flooding

  • Flooding is the leading cause of weather-related deaths in the U.S.

  • Flooding can occur in three ways: flash flooding, which is flooding that occurs very quickly from heavy rainfall; areal flooding, which develops gradually from prolonged periods of moderate or heavy rainfall; and river flooding, which happens when a river or stream overflows its banks due to recent heavy rainfall.

  • Stay safe: never cross water-covered roads – roads could be washed out or there could be underwater obstructions, and never go around barriers put into place by emergency officials, they are there for your safety.

  • Flood dangers are harder to recognize at night.

  • Turn around, don’t drown!

Friday: Receiving Weather Alerts

  • Have multiple ways of receiving weather alerts.

  • A NOAA Weather Radio will wake you up during the middle of the night for important weather alerts. These can be programmed to sound only for your specific area.

  • Do not rely on warning sirens to wake you up; they are meant to warn people who are outdoors of incoming dangerous weather.

For more information on Severe Weather Awareness Week, please visit the NWS Birmingham website.

Additionally, February 26-28, 2016 is a Severe Weather Preparedness Tax-Free holiday in Tuscaloosa County, City of Tuscaloosa, and City of Northport. During this event, you will be able to purchase items such as flashlights, batteries, and weather radios free of state taxes. To see a full list of tax-exempt items, click here.