Severe Weather Preparedness Week ~ Day 3 ~ Tornado Safety

Severe Weather Awareness Week
Tornado Safety

Today is devoted to tornado safety.

The months of March through May are known as the Spring Severe Weather Season. A secondary Fall Severe Weather Season also exists from November through mid December. Our region is one of the few locations in the world that has two distinct severe weather seasons.

defined as a violently rotating column of air that is in contact with the ground. If the circulation is not on the ground, then it is defined as a funnel cloud. Tornadoes usually descend from thunderstorms. Wind speeds in tornadoes can range from 65 mph to 318 mph (the highest tornado wind speed ever recorded). Your safety depends on being constantly aware of the possibility of severe weather.

Tornado WATCH
means that conditions are favorable for the development of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes in and close to the watch area. A watch is normally issued for a large area covering numerous counties. The watch is intended to give you time to review your safety rules. The sky may be sunny, but weather changes can take place quite rapidly.

means that a developing tornado has been detected by National Weather Service Doppler Radar or has been reported on the ground by reliable sources. A Tornado Warning is typically issued for a portion of counties at a time and usually lasts no more than 45 minutes. If a Tornado Warning is issued for your county, you should seek shelter immediately. If you see a tornado or feel threatened, move to a safe place immediately, as precious seconds can save your life.

Tornado Safety Rules:

If you are in a home or small business:
Go to the basement or a small interior room such as a closet, bathroom or interior hallway without windows on the lowest level. Put as many walls between yourself and the outside as possible. If possible, get under something sturdy, such as a heavy table, or use a mattress to protect yourself from flying debris. Most injuries associated with high winds are from flying debris, so remember to protect your head. If available, put on a bicycle or motorcycle helmet to protect yourself from head injuries.

If you are in a large business, school, hospital, shopping center or factory:
Go to the designated shelter area. If a shelter area is not available, the best place is to go to an interior hallway on the lowest level. Stay away from the structurally weaker portions of buildings, such as windows and rooms with expansive roofs, which are more likely to collapse when tornadoes strike.

If you are in a mobile home or home on stilts:
Get out and take shelter in a sturdy building or storm shelter. If there is not one nearby, take shelter in the most interior room that has no windows, such as an interior bathroom or closet.

If you are caught in a vehicle:
Get out and into a sturdy shelter. If one is not available nearby, get to a low spot and cover your head from flying debris. Do not take cover under an overpass as this does not provide adequate shelter during a tornado and can cause increased wind speeds due to a tunneling effect.

Do not waste time opening windows in an attempt to prevent damage to a building. The old belief that damage could result from rapid pressure changes during a tornado is NOT TRUE. It will not make any difference in a tornado if the window is open or not.

Your safest course of action is to take shelter immediately when a tornado warning is issued for your area.

Additional Information

NWS Storm Prediction Center
National Severe Storms Lab

Tornado Safety

StormReady Program

Severe Weather Preparedness Week ~ Day 2 ~ Flooding and Flash Flooding

Severe Weather Awareness Week
Flooding and Flash Flooding

Today is devoted to flood and flash flood safety. Alabama, Mississippi and Florida residents fall victim to this dangerous phenomena each year.

General river flooding occurs when heavy rains and runoff fill river basins with water too quickly.

Flash floods occur suddenly and usually within hours of excessive localized heavy rainfall. Flash floods can become raging torrents, ripping through neighborhoods, streets or valleys, destroying whatever is in their path.

Flood Watch
When conditions look favorable for flash flooding, the National Weather Service will issue a Flood Watch, highlighting flash flood potential in and around the specified area. A Watch usually encompasses several counties. This is the time to start thinking about your plan of action if water begins to rise or a flash flood warning is issued.

Flash Flood Warning
issued for a smaller, more specific area. This is when you must act quickly as flash floods are an imminent threat to you and your family. You may only have seconds to move to higher ground.

Flood and Flash Flood Safety Rules:

Heavy rain should be a signal to alerting you to the possibility of dangerous flood conditions.

During periods of heavy rains, stay away from flood prone areas such as stream beds, drainage ditches and culverts.

Move to higher ground if flooding threatens your area.

If you live or work in flood prone areas, remain alert during periods of heavy rain.

Be especially cautious at night as it is harder to recognize flood dangers.

Never drive your car into water of unknown depth. Most flash flood deaths occur when people drive their vehicles into flood waters. Remember: Turn Around Don’t Drown!!

If your vehicle stalls, abandon it immediately and seek higher ground. Flood water may rise quickly, cover the vehicle and sweep it away.

Stay out of flooded areas. The water may still be rising and very swift. A rapidly flowing stream can sweep you off your feet and sweep your vehicle downstream.

Children are especially vulnerable and should not be allowed to play in or around flowing water.

Water can run off streets and parking lots rapidly, causing natural and man-made drainage systems to overflow with flood waters.

Flood waters can hide rocks, trees, trash and other debris that can be dangerous to someone in their path.

Water is a very powerful force and should NEVER be underestimated.

Additional Information

     Flash Flood Safety

Turn Around, Don’t Drown Campaign

Severe Weather Preparedness Week ~ Day 1 ~ Severe Thunderstorms

Severe Weather Awareness Week
Severe Thunderstorms

Today is devoted to severe thunderstorms.

Thunderstorms are a common occurrence in Alabama, Mississippi and Florida any time of the day, month or year. There are about 2,000 thunderstorms in progress around the world at any given moment. However, less than 1% of these thunderstorms are classified as “severe”. Severe thunderstorms are defined as thunderstorms that produce 1 inch hail or larger and/or strong wind gusts of 58mph or greater. Severe hail that is 1 inch in diameter is roughly the size of a quarter.


All thunderstorms generate potentially deadly lightning. However, lightning in a thunderstorm does not necessarily mean that the thunderstorm is severe. Occasionally, a small percentage of severe thunderstorms produce tornadoes with little or no lightning at all.


Across the region, severe thunderstorms typically occur during the late afternoon and evening hours, but can develop at any time. While severe thunderstorms can occur any month of the year,  the peak Severe Weather Season is during the spring months of March, April and May. Alabama, Mississippi and northwest Florida also have a secondary Severe Weather Season in the fall that typically runs from November through mid December.


Severe Thunderstorm WATCH
means conditions are favorable for the development of severe thunderstorms in and close to the watch area. People located in and around the watch area should keep an eye to the sky and listen to their NOAA All Hazards Weather Radio or tune to the local broadcast media for further weather information. Typically, watches last around 6 hours and cover a relatively large area.


Severe Thunderstorm WARNING
means either a severe thunderstorm is occurring, has been detected by National Weather Service Doppler Radar or a reliable report has been received. People in the warned area should take immediate action to protect their lives, lives of others, and their property. Tornadoes can and occasionally do accompany severe thunderstorms. Treat this warning the same as you would for a Tornado Warning by taking the proper safety precautions. Warnings are issued for smaller, more specific locations and generally last for less than one hour.


Severe Thunderstorm Safety Rules:


Thunderstorms typically do not last very long and will most often pass by your location in less than one hour.

The best defense against thunderstorms is to stay inside a sturdy, substantial building that can protect you from lightning, large hail, damaging winds, heavy rain and tornadoes.

If caught outside, find shelter immediately.

Once in a shelter, stay away from windows and avoid electrical equipment.

Be sure to secure loose objects outside as these objects often become dangerous flying debris in high winds.

Additional Information

NWS Storm Prediction Center

National Severe Storms Lab

Severe Weather Safety

StormReady Program

Governor Ivey Declares Severe Weather Awareness Week






Governor Ivey Declares Severe Weather Awareness Week


CLANTON – Governor Kay Ivey has declared the week of February 18th – February 23rd as “Severe Weather Awareness Week” in Alabama. The Alabama Emergency Management Agency (AEMA), the National Weather Service (NWS) in Alabama and other agencies are encouraging everyone to build an emergency kit, create an emergency communications plan and practice with family members to ensure everyone knows what to do and where to go before, during and after any storm.


“Looking back on 2017, we are reminded of the importance of being prepared for severe weather,” Governor Ivey said. “I urge all citizens to remain prepared at all times for bad weather, but to especially use the week of February 18th through the 23rd to ensure their homes and their families are ready for the severe weather season.”


According to the National Weather Service, Alabama’s primary severe weather season is March, April and May.


“Based on historical data, Alabama is more likely to experience severe weather during the primary tornado season, however it is important for residents to be prepared every day,” Alabama EMA Director Brian E. Hastings said. “Severe weather can develop quickly and during any month. It is important to plan ahead and know the appropriate steps to help build a culture of preparedness. The steps you take may help save your life and your family members.”


AEMA and the NWS will focus on the following specific severe weather themes during severe weather awareness week.

  • Monday, Feb. 19: Severe Thunderstorms and Watches/Warnings. Lightning, large hail and damaging winds from severe storms are just as dangerous as tornadoes.
  • Tuesday, Feb. 20: Flash Flooding.  Flooding is the number one cause of weather-related deaths behind heat. Remember… Turn Around, Don’t Drown.
  • Wednesday, Feb. 21: Tornado Safety and Preparedness. The NWS is encouraging everyone to conduct their own “tornado safety drill”. This drill can be accomplished in conjunction with the weekly NOAA All-Hazards Radio test that will run at a special time at 9:00 a.m.
  • Thursday, Feb. 22: Lightning. All thunderstorms are accompanied by lightning, which can be deadly. Remember… When the Thunder Roars, Go Indoors.
  • Friday, Feb. 23: Receiving Severe Weather Information. There are numerous ways to receive weather alerts from your cellphones to weather radios and mass notification systems.


Local weather information and alerts are available through the NWS online at the following websites.


Having a NOAA weather radio is a great tool to receive official warnings, watches, forecasts and other hazard information 24 hours a day, seven days a week from your nearest NWS office. County emergency management agencies can also provide area specific information. A list of all county EMA directors can be found here


For more information on how to be prepared for severe weather follow Alabama EMA on twitter @Alabama EMA or online at


Proclamation By the Governor of Alabama

Severe Weather Preparedness Week in Alabama: February 18-23, 2018

February 18-23, 2018 has been proclaimed the Alabama Severe Weather Awareness Week by Alabama Governor, Kay Ivey.

The purpose of Severe Weather Awareness Week is to provide people with the knowledge necessary to protect their lives when severe weather threatens.

Whether in the form of severe thunderstorms, tornadoes or flash floods, severe weather can develop very quickly. Once a tornado approaches or flooding develops it is too late to start working on a preparedness plan. When severe weather develops and warnings are issued you must take immediate action to protect yourself and others.

So how does one prepare for severe weather? For a severe weather preparedness plan to be successful, it must include the following:

KNOWLEDGE  of terminology (such as watches and warnings)
KNOWLEDGE  of safety rules when severe weather strikes
RELIABLE  method of receiving emergency information
DESIGNATION  of an appropriate shelter
DRILLS  to test the plan

For an electronic version of the Alabama All Hazards Awareness Booklet click here.


Tornado Safety Drill — Wednesday, February 21
In Alabama, we do not conduct a statewide tornado drill. However, we encourage everyone to conduct their own safety drill on Wednesday, February 21. This “tornado safety drill” will be accomplished in conjunction with our weekly NOAA All-Hazards Radio Test that will be run at a special time around 9:10 AM. An actual tornado warning WILL NOT sound, but this is an excellent opportunity for schools, civic organizations and businesses in southwest and south central Alabama to practice what they would do in the event of a tornado warning.

Severe Weather Awareness Week Schedule

Monday 19th

Tuesday 20th

Wednesday 21st

Thursday 22nd

Friday 23rd



Foley Tornado


NOAA Weather Radio Icon


Flooding & Flash Flooding

Tornado Safety




Alabama Sales Tax Holiday:  February 23-25, 2018
To end the week, the State of Alabama will host a sales tax holiday for preparedness items. Check to make sure your emergency kit is complete and use this opportunity to purchase any missing items. For further details pertaining to what items are included in the sales tax holiday, check this comprehensive list.



See Something Say Something!

From the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security

It Takes a Community to Protect a Community

“If You See Something, Say Something™” is a national campaign that raises public awareness of the indicators of terrorism and terrorism-related crime, as well as the importance of reporting suspicious activity to state and local law enforcement.

Informed, alert communities play a critical role in keeping our nation safe. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is committed to strengthening hometown security by creating partnerships with state, local, tribal, and territorial (SLTT) governments and the private sector, as well as the communities they serve. These partners help us reach the public across the nation by displaying the campaign’s messages and distributing outreach materials, including Public Service Announcements (PSAs).

We can all help keep our communities safe by paying attention to our surroundings and reporting suspicious activity to local law enforcement.