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Preparing for severe weather

Are you ready for severe weather? Now is the time to review your plans. Severe weather is...
Are you ready for severe weather? Now is the time to review your plans. Severe weather is possible on Wednesday.(WTOK)
Published: Mar. 14, 2021 at 6:54 PM CDT
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MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - It’s Spring, and Spring is severe weather season.

Mississippi and Alabama are the two most tornado-prone states in the country! No, it’s not Oklahoma or Texas. Mississippi and Alabama actually have more tornadoes per square mile than any other state in the country - by almost double.

Our first spring storm system is on track to arrive on Wednesday.

Take time before the storm arrives on Wednesday to review your severe weather safety plan before severe weather threatens. Make sure everyone in your home knows the plan.

BE INFORMED!

The first step to making sure you and your family are safe during dangerous weather is to be informed. You can’t know to take shelter if you are binge watching your favorite television series on Hulu or Netflix or any of the other streaming services available today.

Make sure you have multiple ways - at least three - to get warnings when severe weather is occurring. A NOAA Weather Radio should top your list. If you only watching streaming television, a cheap TV-top antenna is a good investment. They can cost as little as $10 at most stores. They give you access to FREE TV from local network affiliates, which includes WTOK. That way, you’re able to watch. Don’t rely on live streams. If your internet or cell service fails, you’re without your information sources.

DO NOT RELY ON YOUR CELL PHONE FOR WARNINGS! A tornado doesn’t even have to hit you; it just has to hit nearby for the cell phone towers to be taken out. That leaves you without service. That happened in the Nashville tornado in early 2020, and many people were caught off their guard because their cell phone alerts didn’t sound. As long as you have service, the WTOK Weather App is a good source of information.

Social media is okay before the storm hits. Newscenter 11 and our weather team have social media pages you can follow. WTOK.com is another good information source. DO NOT RELY ON SOCIAL MEDIA FOR WARNINGS DURING THE EVENT. Social media uses algorithms that prevent you from seeing our updates, sometimes for days or weeks after the post is made.

If you know people who are often not paying attention, call them or text them if a warning is issued in their area. Get their attention and let them know there is danger.

WHERE TO GO IF A TORNADO THREATENS?

If you live in a mobile home, please plan to be somewhere else as soon as a watch is issued. Mobile homes are extremely dangerous and often deadly when they’re hit by tornadoes.

If you live in a sturdy house, know where to go in your home for safety. Your safe place should be on the lowest floor of your home as close to the middle of the house as possible. Small rooms like hall closets or bathrooms are best. Interior halls are the next best. The idea is to put as many walls between you and outside as possible. Even better than any of these options is a basement or a tornado safe room specially designed for tornadoes.

Remember, when you go to your safe place, you can cover yourself with blankets, sheets, pillows, jackets, couch cushions, small mattresses, or anything that will help protect you from flying debris. Don’t forget to put on your shoes! If a tornado hits, you will need your shoes and you probably won’t be able to find them.

The safest places in a sturdy house to shelter from a tornado are on the lowest floor as close...
The safest places in a sturdy house to shelter from a tornado are on the lowest floor as close to the middle of the house as possible. Small rooms or interior halls or even basements are best.(WTOK)

KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A WATCH AND WARNING

A Severe Thunderstorm Watch or a Tornado Watch is issued for large areas for long periods of time when conditions are favorable for severe thunderstorms or tornadoes to form. When a watch is issued, you should monitor weather updates and be prepared to move to your safe place if dangerous weather threatens.

A warning means a severe thunderstorm or tornado is in progress or is in the formative stages and could be in progress within minutes. Warnings are issued for shorter periods of time - up to an hour. They’re also issued for smaller areas - usually counties or parts of counties. When a warning is issued, you should stay alert and informed minute by minute and move to your safe place when dangerous weather threatens.

KNOW YOUR COUNTY

Since warnings are issued for counties or portions of counties, it’s important to know what county you’re in and where it is located on the map. This may sound easy, but a lot people actually don’t know this. If you don’t know where your county is, we cannot effectively communicate that information to you. The map below is the typical view of our coverage area we use on Newscenter 11. Counties and a few cities are labeled. Below the map is an alphabetical list of counties in our area - first Mississippi, then Alabama - along with a partial list of some cities, towns, and communities within each county.

Do you know what county you're in and where your county is on a map?
Do you know what county you're in and where your county is on a map?(WTOK)

Some Communities and The Counties They’re In (Not every community is on this list -- counties are listed alphabetically)

LAUDERDALE COUNTY, MISSISSIPPI

  • Meridian
  • Naval Air Station Meridian
  • Marion
  • Collinsville
  • Lauderdale
  • Vimville
  • Zero
  • Causeyville
  • Clarkdale
  • Whynot
  • Meehan
  • Savoy
  • Bailey
  • Daleville
  • Dalewood Lake
  • Toomsuba
  • Russell
  • Alamucha
  • Topton

CLARKE COUNTY, MISSISSIPPI

  • Quitman
  • Enterprise
  • Stonewall
  • Shubuta
  • Pachuta
  • Snell
  • Middleton
  • Energy
  • De Soto
  • Matherville

JASPER COUNTY, MISSISSIPPI

  • Bay Springs
  • Louin
  • Montrose
  • Stringer
  • Moss
  • Heidelberg
  • Vossburg
  • Markwald
  • Paulding
  • Lake Como
  • Waldrup
  • Stevens
  • Ras
  • Garlandville
  • Rose Hill
  • Penalty
  • Orange

JONES COUNTY, MISSISSIPPI

  • Laurel
  • Ellisville
  • Sandersville
  • Soso
  • Hoy
  • Calhoun
  • Mount Zion
  • Pendorf
  • Cleo
  • Tuckers Crossing
  • Hebron
  • Crotts
  • Tawanta
  • Ovett
  • Shelton

KEMPER COUNTY, MISSISSIPPI

  • DeKalb
  • Scooba
  • Preston
  • Electric Mills
  • Prismatic
  • Klondike
  • Moscow
  • Giles
  • Binnsville
  • Millington
  • Wahalak
  • Sciples Mill

LEAKE COUNTY, MISSISSIPPI

  • Carthage
  • Edinburg
  • Standing Pine
  • Harmony
  • Madden
  • Williston
  • Ebenezer
  • Wiggins
  • Redwater
  • Walnut Grove

NESHOBA COUNTY, MISSISSIPPI

  • Philadelphia
  • Tucker
  • House
  • Neshoba
  • Pearl River
  • Choctaw
  • Dixon
  • Arlington
  • Burnside
  • Bogue Chitto

NEWTON COUNTY, MISSISSIPPI

  • Newton
  • Decatur
  • Union
  • Chunky
  • Hickory
  • Lawrence
  • Conehatta
  • Little Rock
  • Good Hope

NOXUBEE COUNTY, MISSISSIPPI

  • Macon
  • Brooksville
  • Shuqualak
  • Mashulaville
  • Deerbrook
  • Prairie Point
  • Bigbee Valley
  • Aubrey
  • Paulette
  • Cooksville
  • McLeod
  • Dinsville
  • Ravine

SCOTT COUNTY, MISSISSIPPI

  • Forest
  • Morton
  • Lake
  • Sebastopol
  • Horseshoe
  • Harperville
  • Gum Spring
  • Lillian
  • Forkville
  • Branch
  • Kalem
  • Stage
  • Homewood
  • Copperville
  • Norris
  • Buckleytown

SMITH COUNTY, MISSISSIPPI

  • Raleigh
  • Polkville
  • Taylorsville
  • Pineville
  • Lorena
  • Trenton
  • Mize

WAYNE COUNTY, MISSISSIPPI

  • Waynesboro
  • Winchester
  • Robinsons Junction
  • Denham
  • Hiwannee
  • West King
  • Whistler
  • Strengthford
  • Hollis Creek
  • Mulberry
  • Battles
  • Eret

WINSTON COUNTY, MISSISSIPPI

  • Louisville
  • Noxapater
  • Nanih Waiya
  • Stallo
  • Plattsburg
  • Hinze
  • Vowell
  • Rural Hill
  • Estes
  • Boon
  • Claytown
  • Handle
  • Fearns Springs
  • Millcreek
  • Webster

CLARKE COUNTY, ALABAMA

  • Grove Hill
  • Thomasville
  • Coffeeville
  • Fulton
  • Jackson
  • Chilton
  • McEntyre
  • Rural
  • Peacock
  • Nettleboro
  • Scyrene
  • Zimco
  • Winn
  • Toddtown
  • Mays Crossroads
  • Snuggsville
  • Vashti
  • Walker Springs
  • Gosport
  • Alma
  • Barlow Bend
  • Gainestown
  • Choctaw Bluff

CHOCTAW COUNTY, ALABAMA

  • Butler
  • Lisman
  • Pennington
  • Gilbertown
  • Silas
  • Toxey
  • Needham
  • Bladon Springs
  • Womack Hill
  • Wimbly
  • Thornton Springs
  • Ararat
  • Slater

MARENGO COUNTY, ALABAMA

  • Demopolis
  • Linden
  • Sweet Water
  • Dixons Mills
  • Exmoor
  • Wayne
  • Clay Hill
  • Surginer
  • Vineland
  • Magnolia
  • Calvary
  • Octagon
  • Thomaston
  • Hugo
  • Half Chance
  • Dayton
  • Providence
  • Old Spring Hill
  • Alfalfa
  • Salt Well

SUMTER COUNTY, ALABAMA

  • Livingston
  • Cuba
  • York
  • Siloam
  • Kinterbish
  • Gaston
  • Persimmon Grove
  • Lilita
  • Moore Town
  • Dove
  • Millville
  • Payneville
  • Parker
  • Epes
  • Emelle
  • Sumterville
  • Geiger
  • Gainesville
  • Fair Oaks
  • Coatopa

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