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Severe Weather Preparedness Tips: Don't let severe weather take you by surprise

In 2019, the National Weather Service issued 158 tornado warnings in North Carolina and recorded 51 actual tornado touchdowns.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Gov. Roy Cooper declared March 1, through March 7, as Severe Weather Preparedness Week. He's urging North Carolinians to prepare and practice safety plans in case severe weather strikes. Even though severe weather can happen any time of year, spring is the most active season in the state of North Carolina.

"Now is the time to prepare for the severe weather that often comes in the spring," Cooper said. "Know the risks, stay alert to weather reports and most importantly, have a family emergency plan in place to keep you and your loved ones safe."

Schools and government buildings statewide held tornado drills on Wednesday to practice their emergency plans. Text messages were also broadcasted on radio and TV via the Emergency Alert System and over National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather radios.

"Participating in the tornado drill is a great way to practice what to do when severe weather strikes," Cooper said.

North Carolina is no stranger to severe weather. In 2019, the National Weather Service issued 158 tornado warnings in North Carolina and recorded 51 actual tornado touchdowns. There were 88 flash flood warnings issued last year and 91 flood or flash flood events across the state. In addition, the National Weather Service issued 710 severe thunderstorm warnings, and recorded 928 severe thunderstorms with damaging winds.

Tornadoes form during severe thunderstorms when winds change direction and increase in speed. These storms can produce large hail and damaging winds that can reach 300 miles per hour. A tornado can develop rapidly with little warning, so having a plan in place will allow you to respond quickly.

The North Carolina Office of Emergency Management recommends the following severe weather preparedness tips:

  • Develop a family emergency plan so each member knows what to do, where to go and who to call during an emergency.
  • If thunder roars, go indoors! Lightning is close enough to strike you.
  • Know where the nearest safe room is, such as a basement or interior room away from windows.
  • Know the terms: WATCH means severe weather is possible. WARNING means severe weather is occurring; take shelter immediately.
  • Assemble an emergency supply kit for use at home or in your vehicle. Make sure to include a 3-day supply of non-perishable food and bottled water.
  • If driving, leave your vehicle immediately to seek shelter in a safe structure. Do not try to outrun a tornado in your vehicle and do not stop under an overpass or bridge.
  • If there is no shelter available, take cover in a low-lying flat area.

For more information about severe weather planning, preparing, and staying informed, click here