MURRAY – With National Preparedness Month coming to an end, The National Weather Service in Paducah will be hosting a Facebook Live session Monday at 7 p.m. to answer questions about severe weather safety.
Sept. 27 through Oct. 1 is Fall Severe Weather Safety Awareness Week, and the NWS Paducah office will also be posting infographics on their social media pages all week with information and tips for severe weather.
So why is now a good time to talk about preparedness? Bill Call, who is the local deputy director of emergency management, says September is a quiet month and is a good time to prepare and set plans for severe weather that can take place in late fall and next spring. Call said the peak sessions for severe weather are April-June and late fall, but severe weather can happen any time.
What makes these months ideal for storms? Justin Holland, co-op weather observer for the Paducah Weather Service, says it is because of the clash of the different air masses like cold versus hot or vice versa. He also said that tornadoes typically occur during the afternoon and evening and into the night, and very seldom do they occur during the morning.
“That’s basically because you have more wind energy late in the day and into the night time hours because the sun actually will heat up the atmosphere causing a lot of energy to spawn tornadoes late into the day,” Holland explained. “The fall severe weather season for us is not as great as in spring, but with us getting into the cooler months, people will not think about severe weather or tornadoes much. People will have cooler weather, snow and ice on their minds (and) with the holidays coming up, people need to have in the back of their minds (that) we can have and have had a lot of severe weather in this part of the country.”
The most important part of severe weather is being updated on watches and warnings around the area. A good way to stay informed is to have a NOAA radio that is set for your county. Call said other ways to receive warnings, other than a radio, is to receive alerts on cell phones. He said that most modern cell phones automatically send out reports for severe weather.
“We also have the Code Red warning system which is a subscription service that the county subscribes to and anyone can asked to be added to the list. If a warning is issued, the Code Red service will call either a cellphone or landline phone,” Call said. “People can sign up for this by calling the Calloway County Judge-Executive’s office.”
In the event of severe weather, closets, basements, or inner rooms away from windows are ideal. Call and Holland both stated that mobile homes are the worst places to be in because they can be easily flipped over. They both advised those in a mobile home to make arrangements for a sturdy building like a friends or family home or even a business.
Being in a secure area is not the only precaution people need to take. Holland says protecting your head will make your chances of living higher. He also said that a good practice that many people do not think about is putting on tennis shoes before they take shelter. Tennis shoes are important because in the event that a house is demolished there will be debris such as glass, nails, and other sharp objects.
“People need to have a tornado safety kit that has a good flashlight with some good batteries, maybe a car cellphone charger because a typical cell phone charger will not work if the electricity is out. They will also need about three to four days worth of food, medication and good bottles of drinking water,” Holland said.
Tornadoes are not the only hazard to look out for. Call said the sudden outbreak of hail and severe thunderstorms is the precursor of a tornado because severe thunderstorms can turn into tornadoes any time. “Watching out for hail development is key. Hail itself can be dangerous,” Call said.