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Officials ask Georgia residents to prepare for severe weather

Published: Nov. 3, 2021 at 7:02 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Autumn is not only known for cooler weather and falling leaves, but it’s also a time when the risk of severe weather increases in the Southeast U.S.

Schools, businesses, families were urged to get ready for another severe weather season. The Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency and the National Weather Service declared Nov. 3 Fall Severe Weather Preparedness Day.

Residents, including schools, were encouraged to participate in the statewide tornado drill at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, and to create a plan on what to do if severe weather strikes.

The fall months are known for all modes of severe weather - damaging winds, hail, and tornadoes. The odds of tornadoes, according to data from the Storm Prediction Center, increase starting in October with western Georgia having the higher odds in the viewing area. But those higher odds last well into the winter with highest odds in the spring.

Climatology also shows that the chance of tornadoes with at least EF-2 strength, 110 mile an hour winds or greater, become elevated in the fall and the highest in the spring.

The change of seasons is a big reason why the risk shift takes place. As the cooler months arrive in the Northern Hemisphere, the jet stream dips farther south into the southern U.S. Created by sharp temperature gradients aloft, these belts of higher winds also help to develop large-scale storm systems such as cold fronts and low pressure systems. The stronger mid-latitude cyclones can create wind shear, the change in wind direction and speed with height, to add some spin to the air. When higher moisture and convective energy thrown into the mix, the environment has better odds of tornado development.

Some examples of events include a tornado in Blountstown on Nov. 14, 2014. The early morning tornado injured two, and had peak winds of 130 mph.

A tornado in Madison County in the early morning hours of Dec. 3, 2018 swept a home off of its foundation. No injuries were reported with the Madison County twister.

If a tornado warning is issued, the best course of action is to move into the most interior room of a home away from windows and outside walls. Bring a flashlight and a phone. If possible, bring a helmet to limit the risk of injury from falling debris. Take cover until the storm has passed.

To limit the impacts of either technical problems or storms disrupting communications, it’s best to have more than one way of receiving weather advisories from the National Weather Service. One can be a NOAA Weather Radio with another being the WCTV Pinpoint Weather App.

Knowing what to do ahead of time can limit the stress and panic, and keep those in the storm’s path safe.

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