Severe Weather Preparedness: Severe Thunderstorms

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Meridian, Miss This is the first full week of February and this week marks severe weather preparedness week in Mississippi. Severe weather is something that is very common in the south and after 2011, something that should be taken seriously. As far as statistics are concerned, Mississippi ranks near the top of every list involving severe weather, including fatalities.

Interim LEMA director Scott Spears says, "Severe weather is nothing new to us. Summer time comes on and the storms start, and we will have a lot of watches and warnings, that's the way it goes every year."

One thing to know about severe weather is the difference between a watch and a warning. A severe thunderstorm watch means conditions are favorable for severe thunderstorms to form. A warning means that a severe storm has already formed and is threatening the warned area.

Severe weather is something that needs to be taken seriously in this part of the country. Monday is dedicated to severe thunderstorms, strong winds, and hail. Although hail isn't usually a major problem in the south, severe storms and strong winds are and they can both be quick killers. Straight line winds blowing at 70 to 100 mph can do the same damage as a small tornado. You should treat strong winds the same way you would a tornado, be inside, and away from windows. Severe storms that can produce winds in excess of 60 mph are far more common than tornadic storms but can be equally devastating.

Another aspect of severe thunderstorms that make them severe is hail. Hail can range in size from pea sized to softball sized and can weigh as much a couple pounds. While pea sized hail may not do much, quarter to golf ball sized hail can, and they occur frequently in the south. Damaged windshields, severe damage to cars, and the sidings of homes can be costly. Although there isn't much you can do to avoid damage to these things, it should act as a warning to avoid being outside during a hail storm.

Tornados are another severe weather threat, but because of the danger they pose, they get all day Wednesday to discuss how to prepare for them, and that's why there will be a state wide tornado drill on Wednesday.

"Hopefully some of the schools will have their drills,” says Spear. He went on to say “We even encourage local businesses to take part in having a drill on there own, like larger businesses. Large stores like Wal-Mart or Lowes, if you did have a tornado where would you put your customers in an event like that."

The state wide drill will take place at 9:15 Wednesday morning. So how can you prepare? Have a plan of action when weather hits, get indoors, stay informed, know what county you're in, and have a weather radio. There is a very noticeable jump in severe weather from February to march so now is the time to prepare.