So, here we are somewhere between Severe Weather Awareness Week and the 26th anniversary of the most devastating tornado outbreak to impact the Carolinas. What happened on the evening of March 28, 1984, in a nutshell: 22 tornadoes that killed 57 people across North and South Carolina. Detailed information can be found at http://www4.ncsu.edu/~nwsfo/storage/cases/19840328/ .
Obviously this is not typical NC weather, this is more common of what you might see in Tornado Alley in the mid-section of the country, but it does happen. A couple weeks ago on March 12th there was a tornado outbreak in Missouri and Illinois. So far the numbers put it at 49 tornadoes and 7 fatalities. Twice as many tornadoes as the ’84 outbreak in the Carolinas, with a fraction of the fatalities. Why?
Well, that is what Severe Weather Awareness Week was about, and that is what we are about. Our job is to keep you informed when life threatening weather is in the region. We are set up to go on almost instantly and stay on until life threatening weather is no longer an immediate threat. We are much better equipped to keep you informed than the media was back in 1984, and the public as a whole is much better at staying in touch with what is going on with the weather.
But there are some basics that some folks still do not have. First and foremost, you should, with out a doubt, have a TONE ALARM WEATHER RADIO in your house. Actually it is now called the “All Hazards Radio Network” because it works in conjunction with the Federal Communication Commission's Emergency Alert System. In addition to weather related watches and warnings, the Weather Radio system can provide information on all types of hazards, including Civil and National Emergency Messages. The main thing here is to get one with the tone alarm feature. For a good description and more information checkout http://www.weather.gov/nwr/nwrrcvr.htm, and http://www.erh.noaa.gov/rah/ncnwr/.
When my oldest daughter started Kindergarten in Cary nearly 10 years ago I asked the Principal how they get word of severe weather. She told me they get that information from Central Office. I was not to happy with that, so that morning I went out and bought a TONE ALARM WEATHER RADIO for the school. I have two in my house, I have given them as Christmas presents, we even have one in the WeatherCenter. Go get one . . . NOW!
Next, have a plan on where to go in your house when life threatening weather is imminent. My daughters know where to go in our house, they better, chances are I’ll be at work when life threatening weather is looming. You need a plan in place before it happens so you don’t have to think about what to do. The image of a couple arguing about the safest place to go as a tornado bears down on their house comes to mind here. Put some thought into it now.
And finally, common sense comes into play here. If there is a hint of severe weather in the forecast, we will mention it. If we do, make an extra effort to keep up with the weather. If you have a pager or cell phone that can receive emails sign up for our severe weather alerts. Go to WRAL.COM, click weather, then scroll down to the Severe Weather Section near the bottom of the page. While you are there, check out some of the other useful information on severe weather, and let us hope we never have to use it.