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Examiner
  • Statewide storm drill coming up Tuesday

  • Ignore all that snow. It’s not too early to be mindful of the potential from tornadoes and other severe weather that often comes in the spring and early summer.



    Next week is Severe Weather Awareness Week, and it includes the annual Missouri statewide tornado drill at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday.

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  • Ignore all that snow. It’s not too early to be mindful of the potential from tornadoes and other severe weather that often comes in the spring and early summer.
    Next week is Severe Weather Awareness Week, and it includes the annual Missouri statewide tornado drill at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday.
    Tornadoes are heaviest from April through mid-June, but they come in the winter, too. It was Feb. 29 last year that a series of tornadoes hit southwest Missouri, including one that did widespread damage in Branson. In December 2010, a series of tornadoes struck St. Louis.
    Maureen Burke, area coordinator of the State Emergency Management Agency, says the most important advice is simple: “Pay attention. ... If someone is saying take cover, take cover.”
    Emergency managers say they understand – and are frustrated by – the psychology of all this. The first reaction to hearing a severe weather warning is to go outside and look. That can be a bad idea.
    On Tuesday, warning sirens and weather alert radios will go off, indicating that people are asked to seek shelter.
    “The safest shelter location is in the basement or an interior room in the lowest level of a building,” SEMA states. “The drill is complete once everyone is accounted for in the designated shelters.”
    Other areas of focus for Severe Weather Awareness Week are flash floods, thunderstorm, preparedness generally and officials’ desire that every home and business have a NOAA weather radio, the newer models of which can be set to come on automatically when a watch or warning is issued.
    Emergency managers also acknowledge that many residents are unclear on the differences between watches and warnings – language the National Weather Service has talked about changing.
    A watch means to be on guard. It means the conditions are right for the outbreak of tornadoes, severe thunderstorms or other bad weather. A watch is usually posted over a fairly broad area – several counties, sometimes a few states – and generally lasts for several hours. Keep the radio or TV on, and stay alert.
    A warning means a storm is happening or immiment. A tornado warning, for example, is issued when a trained weather spotter sees a funnel cloud or a tornado or when radar detects rotation – a tornado forming – within a storm cloud. This is the time to take cover – without delay. Compared with a watch, warnings tend to be of shorter duration and for much smaller areas. With a tornado, for example, the Weather Service can often get a good line – minute by minute – on when a storm that’s producing tornadoes will pass through City A, then City B and so on.
     
     
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