Yadkin County urges residents to practice tornado safety

March 6-12 is Severe Weather Preparedness Week; statewide drill is March 9

Yadkin County Emergency Services urges Yadkin County residents to be alert for severe storms and tornadoes that pop up with little to no notice this spring.

March 6-12 is Severe Weather Preparedness Week in North Carolina. Yadkin County officials are encouraging residents to participate in the statewide tornado drill March 9 to get ready for potentially damaging thunderstorms and tornadoes.

“The spring is the peak tornado season, but severe thunderstorms can strike anytime,” said Keith Vestal, director Yadkin County Emergency Services. “It’s easy to become complacent because we routinely see thunderstorms, but these severe storms can bring damaging winds and hail, heavy rains that cause flash floods, and even tornadoes. The best way to be ready is to plan, prepare and practice. It’s critical to have emergency plans in place, put together an emergency supplies kit and listen for weather alerts.”

The Statewide Tornado drill will be March 9 at 9:30 a.m. A test message will be broadcast on National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather radio and the Emergency Alert system.

“Practicing what to do is important as you could have very little notice that a tornado is touching down in your neighborhood,” Vestal said. “I urge all county residents to participate in the drill wherever they may be that morning. Tornadoes do not have a schedule; they can strike while you are getting ready for work, while your children are at school or while you are asleep.”

In 2015, the National Weather Service issued 25 tornado warnings for North Carolina and recorded nine tornadoes. There were also 98 flash flood warnings issued and 133 flash flood incidents recorded across the state. The NWS also issued more than 528 severe thunderstorm warnings, and recorded more than 542 incidents of severe thunderstorms with damaging winds and/or large hail. Combined, severe storms, flash flooding and tornadoes caused nearly $12.5 million in damages.

Yadkin County Emergency Services officials recommend having a weather radio which broadcasts alerts from the National Weather Service whenever severe weather occurs. Many tornado fatalities have occurred at night when people are asleep and less likely to receive a warning without a weather radio.

Emergency officials recommend people use the following safety tips:

• Know the terms: WATCH means a tornado is possible. WARNING means a tornado has been spotted; take shelter immediately.

• Know where the nearest safe room is, such as a basement or interior room and away from windows, and go there immediately if you hear or see a tornado.

• If driving, you should leave your vehicle immediately to seek safety in an adequate structure. Do not try to outrun a tornado in your vehicle, and do not stop under an overpass or a bridge.

• If you are outdoors, and there is no shelter available, take cover in a low-lying flat area. Watch out for flying debris.

• Following a storm, wear sturdy shoes, long sleeves and gloves when walking on or near debris, and be aware of exposed nails and broken glass.

• Be aware of damaged power or gas lines and electrical systems that may cause fires, electrocution or explosions.

More information on tornadoes and overall emergency preparedness can be found online at www.ReadyNC.org. Yadkin County emergency officials encourage residents to download the free ReadyNC mobile app.

March 6-12 is Severe Weather Preparedness Week; statewide drill is March 9
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