Editorial: Awareness of severe weather

Feb. 28, 2013 @ 07:01 PM

Earlier this week, our area was on the cusp of potential severe weather as two systems made their way up the Atlantic Seaboard, with proximity close to the Interstate 95 corridor. Just a bobble way up in the air, and this past Tuesday afternoon could have included significantly warmer air and even more blustery conditions bordering on or causing severe wind events.

Gov. Pat McCrory has proclaimed Sunday through next Saturday, March 9, as Severe Weather Awareness Week. North Carolinians are urged to have practices in place when the word goes out about tornadoes and severe thunderstorms.

In our neck of the woods, that’s 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.

Our state suffered 22 injuries from 21 tornadoes last year, plus $19 million in damages. The NWS issued 60 tornado warnings. There were another 1,050 severe thunderstorm warnings and 1,200 incidents of severe thunderstorms with damaging winds or large hail. Those storms killed six and injured 46.

While those in Washington play the game of politics with statistics, especially related to global warming, we can’t dismiss the important role the NWS plays in connection to severe weather. The last two calendar years have included both record drought in the nation’s heartland and Hurricane Sandy hitting the heavily populated northeast.

Billion-dollar weather disasters have set records each year. 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.