North Carolina is traditionally an active tornado and severe thunderstorm state with spring the most active season, although severe weather can occur at any time of year.
“Spring brings a greater risk of severe weather and we need to be ready for the threat of strong storms and even tornadoes,” Governor Cooper said. “To help keep you and your loved ones safe, know the risks, have a family emergency plan in place, and stay alert to weather reports.”
Schools and government buildings statewide will hold tornado drills Wednesday, March 6, at 9:30 a.m. to practice their emergency plans. Test messages will be broadcast on National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather radios and the Emergency Alert System.
“I urge everyone to participate in the statewide tornado drill and practice what to do when severe weather strikes,” Governor Cooper said.
North Carolina is no stranger to severe weather. In 2018, the National Weather Service (NWS) issued 104 tornado warnings in North Carolina and recorded 20 actual tornado touchdowns. There were 244 flash flood warnings issued last year and 184 flood or flash flood events across the state. In addition, the National Weather Service issued 605 severe thunderstorm warnings, and recorded 137 severe thunderstorms with damaging winds.
Tornadoes form during severe thunderstorms when winds change direction and increase in speed. These storms can produce large hail and damaging winds up to 300 miles per hour. A tornado can develop rapidly with little warning, so having a plan in place for where to go and what to do when one strikes will allow you to respond quickly.
Emergency Management officials recommend the following safety tips:
• Develop a family emergency plan so each member knows what to do, where to go and who to call during an emergency.
• If thunder roars, go indoors! Lightning is close enough to strike you.
• Know where the nearest safe room is, such as a basement or interior room away from windows.
• Know the terms: WATCH means severe weather is possible. WARNING means severe weather is occurring; take shelter immediately.
• Assemble an emergency supply kit for use at home or in your vehicle. Make sure to include a three-day supply of non-perishable food and bottled water.
• If driving, leave your vehicle immediately to seek shelter in a safe structure. Do not try to outrun a tornado in your vehicle and do not stop under an overpass or bridge.
• If there is no shelter available, take cover in a low-lying flat area.