March 3, 2014 -- Governor Pat McCrory has declared March 2-8 Severe Weather Awareness Week in North Carolina. He urged North Carolinians to be alert to potentially damaging thunderstorms and possible tornadoes that can occur during any month of the year.
Emergency officials recommend that people living or traveling in North Carolina have an up-to-date safety plan, to put that plan into action if severe weather threatens and to listen to instructions from emergency management officials.
“We've already seen this month how quickly severe storms can strike and how damaging the winds can be,” Governor McCrory said, referring to a line of severe thunderstorms on February 21 that packed 85 mile-per-hour winds and spawned two tornadoes in Robeson County and one in Wayne County. “North Carolinians can become better prepared by maintaining an emergency kit, keeping important papers in a safe place and listening for weather alerts.”
Last year in North Carolina, the National Weather Service recorded 10 tornadoes that injured three people and caused more than $6 million in damages. The state also had 460 thunderstorms or damaging wind events that resulted in three fatalities, seven injuries and more than $11 million in damages.
Twelve people have died from lightning strikes in North Carolina during the past decade, most occurring when people were outside working or playing. Lightning can travel up to 15 miles away from a thunderstorm.
While spring and late fall are typically peak tornado season, severe thunderstorms and tornadoes can happen at any time of the year.
Emergency Management officials recommend having a weather radio that broadcasts alerts from the National Weather service whenever severe weather occurs. Many North Carolina tornado fatalities have occurred at night when people are asleep and less likely to receive a warning without a weather radio.
Emergency officials recommend the following safety tips:
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.
Know the terms: WATCH means a tornado is possible. WARNING means a tornado has been spotted; take shelter immediately.
More information on tornadoes and overall emergency preparedness can be found in the ReadyNC mobile app and online at www.ReadyNC.org. View and download the full proclamation here.