COLUMN: From winter to severe weather
I know it’s hard to believe this, but spring is just around the corner. Even with a winter storm possible tomorrow, it won’t take long for us to approach our primary severe weather season.
The Alabama Emergency Management Agency and the National Weather Service conducted its severe weather awareness week last week as we were digging out of the snow.
As the tornado season approaches, however, the weather service offers the following advice as we prepare our tornado safety plans:
• In a house with a basement, get in the basement and under some kind of sturdy protection (heavy table or work bench), or cover yourself with a mattress or sleeping bag. Head protection, such as a helmet, can offer some protection.
• In a house with no basement, a dorm, or an apartment, go to the lowest floor, small center room (like a bathroom or closet), under a stairwell, or in an interior hallway with no windows. Crouch as low as possible to the floor, facing down; and cover your head with your hands. Even in an interior room, you should cover yourself with some sort of thick padding to protect against falling debris in case the roof and ceiling fail. A helmet can offer some protection against head injury.
• In a mobile home, get out. Go to a nearby permanent structure or storm shelter.
• At school, follow the drill. Go to the interior hall or room in an orderly way as you are told. Crouch low, head down, and protect the back of your head with your arms. Stay away from windows and large open rooms like gyms and auditoriums.
• In a car or truck, there is no safe option, just slightly less-dangerous ones. If the tornado is visible, far away, and the traffic is light, you may be able to drive out of its path by moving at right angles to the tornado. Seek shelter in a sturdy building, or underground if possible. If you can safely get noticeably lower than the level of the roadway, leave your car and lie in that area, covering your head with your hands. Avoid seeking shelter under bridges, which can create deadly traffic hazards while offering little protection against flying debris.
• In the open outdoors, seek shelter in a sturdy building if possible. If not, lie flat and face-down on low ground, protecting the back of your head with your arms. Get as far away from trees and cars as you can.
In Alabama, severe weather can happen in any month. We must be prepared.
Brent Maze is the managing editor of the Hartselle Enquirer.