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Be prepared: spring tornado season is upon us

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CULLMAN - Alabama’s spring tornado season is upon us. Spring tornado season is typically defined as lasting from the beginning of March to the beginning of May. However, tornadoes can and do occur earlier than March. Summer tornadoes are extremely rare in Alabama.

Though there are some notable exceptions, spring tornado season is when Alabama usually experiences violent, long track tornadoes.  Both the 1974 and 2011 tornado outbreaks occurred in spring- in April, specifically- and most tornado fatalities happen in spring. Because of this, now is a good time to begin reviewing tornado safety, and put a plan in place for severe weather. Here is a list of basic steps you can take to keep yourself and your family safe:

  • Know the difference between a tornado watch and warning: a watch means conditions are favorable for tornadoes to form, and a warning means a tornado has been indicated, either by radar or by storm spotters.
  • Know where your local tornado shelter is located: a list of Cullman’s County storm shelters can found at the Cullman EMA’s website.
  • Have several ways of receiving weather warnings: a NOAA weather radio is a very good idea, and there are many smartphone and iPhone apps for weather warnings.
  • If you plan to take shelter in your home, know where to go and what to do: go to the basement or storm shelter if you have one; if not, go to the lowest level to an interior room and cover yourself with blankets or mattresses. Wear a helmet if you have one.
  • Pay attention to weather forecasts
  • Have a basic weather kit: some suggestions for weather kits include batteries, flashlights, a first aid kit, a whistle, hard- soled shoes, food & water to last for at least three days, and important documents. A more exhaustive list can be found at FEMA’s disaster website (www.ready.gov/kit)
  • Have a plan ready: know where to go and what to do if a tornado warning is issued.  Don’t wait until a warning is issued to figure out what you need to do or where to take shelter.

In addition, know what not to do during a tornado warning:   

  • Avoid mobile homes: Most tornado fatalities that occur happen in mobile homes. 
  • Avoid cars: Cars are also dangerous. Don’t be on the road driving during a tornado warning.
  • Don’t go outside and look for the tornado
  • Don’t try to chase the tornado 

For a complete list of community storm shelters, see www.cullmanema.org/assets/PDFs/CommunityShelterList.pdf. Please note that the Cullman County Courthouse is no longer listed as a community shelter.

Further information can be found at NOAA’s “Weather-ready nation” website (www.nws.noaa.gov/com/weatherreadynation) FEMA’s disaster website (www.ready.gov) and Cullman’s EMA website (www.cullmanema.org).  

Community Shelter List by cullmansense on Scribd

Shelter Notice 01102017 by cullmansense on Scribd

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