Editorial: Awareness of severe weather

Mar. 03, 2014 @ 03:17 PM

Before this week began, we had already endured a couple of bouts with the wintry weather.

But severe weather is on the minds of many this week. It is Severe Weather Awareness Week, and Gov. Pat McCrory has joined in the crusade to help North Carolinians be aware and prepared.

After what we saw last month, particularly the day Duke and North Carolina were to tangle in basketball, we have even more desire than usual to help get the advisories out. Scenes involving people across the state, involving those stranded and not the pretty landscapes, were awful.

In our neck of the woods, severe weather is a regular happening come spring time.

Whether at home, work or in schools, all of us need to understand the meanings of what we’re being told and how to react. March, May and November are the deadliest months for tornadoes in North Carolina.

Thunderstorms, often severe, can happen at any time; witness the early-morning boomers heard just last month.

Our state suffered three injuries from 10 tornadoes last year, plus $6 million in damages. That’s a significant drop from the previous year. Still, there were 460 thunderstorms or damaging wind events, killing three, injuring seven and causing $11 million in damage.

While those in Washington play the game of politics with statistics, especially related to global warming, we can’t dismiss the important role the National Weather Service plays in connection to severe weather. Parts of our country have endured record drought as well as debilitating winter storms.

In today’s economy, weather disasters are billion-dollar events. Our phone technology today even includes apps to get instant notification.

But it means little if we don’t understand what the information means.

The NWS issues watches when conditions are favorable for the development of a specific kind of weather event in a particular area. It usually comes well in advance, and a redefining statement comes later.

An NWS warning will follow if radar or spotters have observed the weather condition. The call to seek safe shelter comes with it, and likely other advisories are a part of the alert.

Schools and government buildings statewide will have tornado drills Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. Know your plans, be prepared and stay safe in the Tri-County.