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Officials urge severe weather precautions

Planning is the key to surviving severe weather, and emergencymanagement officials say now is the time to be prepared for naturaldisasters, especially tornadoes.

Although the danger for tornadoes is present throughout the yearin Mississippi, it is more prevalent from February to May and inNovember because of changing weather conditions.

“The warm moist air off the gulf and the cold air from the northcollide during those times of the year,” said Clifford R. Galey,Lincoln County Civil Defense director.

The state saw its first tornado of the season last weekend inthe Starkville area. It took the life of one person and wasresponsible for millions of dollars in damage.

Emergency officials believe that was just the beginning of along season of tornado activity.

In an effort to prevent further tragedies in Mississippi,emergency officials are trying to educate the public about the bestways to prepare for tornadoes and other violent storms.

“Severe weather readiness is just as important as having a fireplan in your home,” said Galey. “You’re more likely to have badweather than a fire.”

The most important measure for protection from severe weather ishaving early warning, which is possible through the advancedtechnology of Doppler radar. Radio and television stations operatethe emergency alert system that announces warnings and watchesissued by the National Weather Service, but residents can findextra protection with weather radios.

“The weather radio is very important to the people in LincolnCounty,” said Galey. “The general public can get warnings almost asquick as I do now because of improvements over the last six monthsto a year.”

The advancements in technology make it possible for people tohear warnings specifically about their area.

“The new ones are site-specific and event-specific so you canset them just for Lincoln County and just for tornadoes if youwant,” said Galey mentioning that the site- and event-specificweather radios cut down on the undesired static and traffic.

Galey said weather radios can be purchased for around $40 atlocal technology stores. Weather radios announce a tornado watchwhen conditions are favorable and a tornado warning when one hasbeen detected by radar or by a tornado spotter.

If a tornado warning is issued, only seconds may remain beforeit touches down and becomes destructive and deadly.

In the severe weather awareness guide, emergency managementofficials list safety rules, which include getting to the lowestlevel around as quickly as possible.

Mobile homes (trailers) and vehicles should be abandoned beforea tornado is ever spotted. They are considered two of the mostdangerous places to be during a violent storm of any type becauseof the structures lack durability.

Shelter should be sought away from windows in a basement orsmall interior room of a sturdy structure.

Pillows, quilts and heavy coats may be used to protect the headand other body parts from flying debris during a tornado.

Galey advised the “Duck, Cover and Hold” position taught toelementary and high school students every year is a very effectiveposition to be in during a tornado.