Friday, March 06, 2009

Severe Weather Season -- Are You Ready?

This week started with snow in the Carolinas and highs in the 30s. By the end of this weekend, we may see high temperatures near 80 degrees. March can bring wild swings in our weather. Those wild swings in weather can also include severe weather. That is why the first week of March has been designated as Severe Weather Awareness Week for the state. Severe weather can happen any time of of the year, but it is more common during the upcoming spring months.

When you think of of severe weather, you may think of tornadoes in the Great Plains of the United States. The central U.S. from South Dakota to northern Texas is an area that is often referred to as Tornado Alley. That region of the country experiences more tornadoes than any place on Earth. While severe weather does happen more often there, we are not immune from storms in North Carolina. In fact, the National Weather Service Office in Raleigh this week quoted a recent study that shows North Carolina leads the nation in the number of killer night time tornadoes!

There are several examples of such tragic events in our recent history. Folks that have lived around Raleigh for a while may remember November 28, 1988 when an F4 tornado touched down in north Raleigh and travelled almost to the Virgina border killing 4 people and injuring over 150. More recent examples of night time tornadoes came just last year on November 15.

Tornado damage in Kenly on November 15, 2008. National Weather Service photo.

Tornado damage near Elm City in Wilson County on November 15, 2008. National Weather Service photo.

Several tornadoes touched down in the eastern Carolinas during the very early morning hours of November 15, 2008. One of those tornadoes near Elm City in Wilson County killed one person and injured four.

With these facts, we should all ask ourselves -- are we prepared if severe weather were to strike at night? It does happen in North Carolina and our history tells us it can be deadly.

The one device that could prevent some deaths from night time tornadoes is a NOAA Weather Radio. These radios will automatically sound an alarm if a severe weather warning is issued in your area. The most recent weather radio models featuring S.A.M.E. technology allow you to program your radio to only alert you for the county where you live. A NOAA Weather Radio is just as important to have in your home as a smoke detector. Every home in North Carolina should have one! Does yours?

If you do not have a weather radio, now is a great time to purchase one. They are available at most electronic stores. You should be able to pick up one for under $50. Be sure to pick a radio with the S.A.M.E. technology and one that has backup battery power in case the electricity goes out.

If you do already have a weather radio, now would be a great time to make sure yours has fresh batteries. Just like smoke detectors, experts recommend you change the battery twice a year. Time change weekends, such as this weekend, is a great time to change your batteries!

Read more about the severe weather events I mentioned in this blog plus find out more about NOAA Weather Radio through these links --

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