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Get ready: Site helps prepare for upcoming severe weather season

Army graphic

Army graphic

Published: March 31, 2016

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (March 31, 2016) -- As the familiar assault of pollen and allergies returns to engulf the South, Fort Rucker officials want to remind people to be ready for the year’s first severe weather season.

The southeast typically experiences two severe weather seasons throughout the year, not including hurricane season, so being prepared is key to making it through safely, according to Willie Worsham, Fort Rucker emergency management officer.

“We are currently in our first severe weather season, which typically runs through April,” he said, adding that the second season will run from August through September.

“After winter, cold fronts come down from the north as the subtropical ridge in the south begins to warm and move northward into the southeast,” said Worsham. “As these two systems collide, violent weather patterns can erupt due to the drastic differences in temperatures in the two air masses.”

Since the subtropical ridge doesn’t allow the cold front to move through, it causes a lot of instability in the atmosphere, he said, which can lead to severe thunderstorms and even tornadoes.

During the season, people can expect strong storms with high winds, large downpours, lightning, possible tornadoes and even flooding in low-lying areas, said the emergency management officer. People should be ready for all weather patterns, but tornadoes are one of the main weather phenomena that people should be prepared for since they can strike without warning, he added.

“The dynamics in the atmosphere during these periods are very conducive for the formation of tornadoes,” said Worsham. “If people hear tornado sirens, they should immediately move to an interior area of their house, such as a hallway or closet, and try to shield themselves with mattresses or anything they can.”

Because of the unpredictable nature of weather, Worsham said that people should always have a plan ready and be sure to stay informed. They should listen closely for sirens and make sure everyone in the household knows what to do in the event of a severe weather emergency, he added.

Worsham offered tips for people to follow to prepare for such emergencies.

  • Make a family communication plan.
  • Identify levees and dams in the area, and determine whether they pose a hazard.
  • Be sure trees and shrubs around the home are well trimmed so they are more wind resistant.
  • Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts.
  • Bring in or secure all outdoor furniture, decorations, garbage cans and other items that are not tied down so they do not become a hazard.
  • Set the refrigerator thermostat to its coldest setting and keep its doors closed in case of power outages.
  • Freeze water in containers and place them in the freezer to keep food frozen.
  • Turn off propane tanks.
  • Close all interior doors, and secure and brace external doors.
  • Watch pets closely and keep them under your direct control, and be sure to have enough food and water for your pets.
  • Fill the bathtub and other containers with water in case the tap water is contaminated for sanitary purposes, such as cooking, cleaning and flushing toilets.

These tips can be used for just about any weather emergency, including hurricane season, which typically runs from June through November, said the emergency management officer, but regardless of the type of weather emergency, people need to be ready for anything because anything can happen.

“Something people tend to forget is that during these storms, power can go out at any time and stay out for days,” he said. “This is something people need to be ready for, especially in rural areas.”

Worsham said that people should normally prepare for a 72-hour time period, but in more rural areas people should prepare for a little longer since it could take longer for help to access those areas.

For more information on emergency weather preparation, visit www.ready.army.mil.

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