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Preparing for Fall Severe Weather Season

Though Alabama can see severe weather, including tornadoes and straight-line winds, year-round and at all hours of the day, there are two points in the year that stand out: primary severe weather season (March-May) and secondary severe weather season (November-December). The secondary season takes place during a busy time of year, when everyone is distracted by holiday activities and traveling. However, taking a few moments now to prepare for the storm that comes later will definitely make a difference. 

The first thing you can do to prepare for severe weather is to brush up on your severe weather safety! Make sure you know the different kinds of severe weather that can impact you in your home, workplace, or on the road. Don't overlook things like lightning and flash flooding! Review your safe place plan with your family before severe weather arrives. Make sure each family member knows where to go and who to call, especially if you aren't all together when severe weather strikes. It may be a good idea to determine an out-of-state family member or friend for each person to check-in with, in case you can't get in touch with each other. Update any apps you use for weather information and check your preferences in the TuscALERT system. 

This is also a great time to review your local geography! Make sure you and your family members can locate your home on a state map. That way, if warnings or watches are issued, you'll be able to tell if you will be impacted by the storm. Don't forget to consider your travel plans! Many people spend the holidays in a location other than their own home. If you're traveling, be aware of the weather forecast before leaving home and don't forget to look up the county of your destination so you aren't caught off-guard away from home. Consider using GPS-based apps to get notifications about warnings.

Secondly, give your safety kit a once-over! Check expiration dates on food and rotate out bottles of water so everything stays fresh - do the same for any medication you keep in your kit. At the same time, check the batteries in your safety equipment to make sure they are working and don't have any corrosion. While this may be common sense for things like flashlights, don't forget to check batteries in your NOAA weather radio! You can also use this time as a reminder to check your smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector.

This is also a great time of the year to seek out training. The National Weather Service in Birmingham, Alabama recently taught 40+ people in Tuscaloosa County about how to identify severe storm features at a SKYWARN Storm Spotter class. The National Weather Service teaches these storm spotter classes each fall and spring. Additionally, there are other training opportunities each year in Tuscaloosa County, like CERT+ (Community Emergency Response Team Plus) classes that teach all about disaster preparedness and the different situations you may find yourself in during disasters and amateur radio classes that train members of the community in emergency communications. Keep an eye out for training opportunities and classes that you can get involved in.

It is easy to get caught up in family activities, holiday gatherings, and last-minute shopping during this time of year. Remember to keep an eye on the weather if you know that severe weather is predicted no matter what activity you're doing. By preparing now, you and your family stay safe and everyone has a happy holiday season.