Week helps residents prepare for violent storms
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — On May 22, 2019, violent storms spread across Missouri, spawning eight tornadoes, dangerous flash flooding, and causing three deaths and widespread destruction. The deadly system, which produced the most destructive tornadoes since the 2011 Joplin tornado exactly eight years before, is another reminder of the importance of being prepared for severe weather.
From March 2 to 6, the National Weather Service, State Emergency Management Agency and local emergency managers urge Missourians to learn about severe weather and how to protect themselves during Missouri Severe Weather Preparedness Week. Missouri’s annual Statewide Tornado Drill will be held on Tuesday, March 3 at 10 a.m. (Some Missouri communities may choose to conduct the drill on a different day due to conflicting local events.)
“Tornadoes, severe storms and flooding are all deadly threats in Missouri that put lives in danger every year,” State Emergency Management Agency Acting Director Jim Remillard said. “Before disaster strikes, it’s best to learn about risks and how to protect ourselves and our families anytime severe weather is forecasted.”
At 10 a.m. on March 3, outdoor warning sirens and weather alert radios across the state will sound, signaling the beginning of the statewide tornado drill and indicating that Missourians should practice taking shelter.
If severe weather is in the forecast for March 3, the tornado drill will be moved to Thursday, March 5 at 10 a.m.
According to the National Weather Service, Missouri experienced 66 tornadoes with three deaths and 38 injuries in 2019. In 2018, there was one death and seven injuries due to tornadoes. Information on tornadoes is available here:https://www.weather.gov/safety/tornado
NWS provides safety tips and educational information about tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, flash flooding, lightning and the importance of NOAA Weather Radios on its Severe Weather Awareness Week page: https://www.weather.gov/lsx/severeweek.Each day during the week focuses on a different safety message: Monday, March 2, Have a Plan/Receive Weather Information Day; Tuesday, March 3, Tornado Safety Day; Wednesday, March 4, Lightning Safety Day; Thursday, March 5, Hail/Wind Safety Day; and Friday, March 6, Flood Safety Day.
• A tornado watch means tornadoes are possible in the area therefore it’s important to be ready to act quickly if it becomes necessary. Tornadoes can form during thunderstorms.
• A tornado warning means seek shelter immediately because a tornado has been sighted or indicated by radar causing imminent danger to life and property.
• The safest shelter location is an interior room without windows on the lowest floor.
• Do not seek shelter in a cafeteria, gymnasium or other large open room because the roof might collapse.
• Immediately leave a mobile home to seek shelter in a nearby building.
• Overpasses are not safe. Their under-the-girder-type construction can cause a dangerous wind tunnel effect.
• If you are driving, stop and take shelter in a nearby building.
• If you are driving in a rural area, drive away from the tornado to the closest building. If you cannot get away, stay in your car with your seatbelt on. Protect yourself from flying debris by placing your head in between your legs underneath the window line and covering it with your arms, a coat or a blanket.
• Never drive into standing water. It can take less than six inches of fast-moving water to make a slow-moving car float. Rapidly rising water may engulf the vehicle and sweep it away.
More information can be found on Missouri’s Stormaware.mo.gov website, which includes detailed videos about how to take shelter from tornadoes in specific locations, how to avoid flash flooding and useful information about tornado sirens, and weather alert radios. Missourians are also encouraged to utilize Missouri’s Ready in 3 program to create a plan, prepare a kit, and listen for information regarding severe weather emergencies. https://health.mo.gov/emergencies/readyin3/