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NWS: Be ready for severe weather — Mississippi will hold statewide tornado drill

Update: Brookhaven will participate in the drill at 9:15 a.m.

Winter has given way to the push of springtime — at least for now – and in preparation for the upcoming tornado season, the National Weather Service is sponsoring Mississippi’s annual Severe Weather Awareness Week.

The NWS promotes awareness of and response to severe weather hazards in all 50 states, and its responsiveness initiatives target the month leading up to regional severe weather seasons.

Lincoln County Emergency Management Director Clifford Galey said Southwest Mississippi typically experiences more thunderstorms than tornadoes during the spring, but he also indicated that twisters are not altogether uncommon.

According to the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, severe weather watches and warnings are relatively ineffective if the public does not receive them or if members of the community lack understanding of how to follow safety procedures. So, Severe Weather Awareness Week helps educate people about how best to protect themselves during dangerous conditions.

Severe weather — whether it manifests as thunderstorms, tornadoes or flash floods — typically develops quickly. Once a tornado forms or flooding develops, it is too late to come up with a preparedness plan. Therefore, it is advised to have a strategy in place for when precarious weather strikes.

Each family should formulate a response procedure that works well for them. Plans should outline where family members can meet during a storm and where to find emergency supplies after bad weather passes.

Galey suggests designating your home’s most interior room as a tornado safety space. He also recommends staying away from windows and exterior doors when wind speeds accelerate.

NWS recommends including the following in your severe weather preparedness plan:

• A sound understanding of weather terminology such as “watches” and “warnings.”

• A thorough knowledge of safety rules to follow when severe weather strikes.

• A reliable method of receiving emergency information.

• The designation of an appropriate shelter.

• Frequent drills to test the plan.

As part of Mississippi’s weather awareness week, the state will hold a tornado drill today at 9:15 a.m. The mock alert will be broadcast through NOAA Weather Radio All-Hazards as part of their routine weekly test.

Galey said Brookhaven has a similar warning procedure in place to alert citizens. 

“We have outdoor warning sirens that sound when a tornado is approaching. They’re designed for you to hear when you’re outside. But television stations and radio stations do a good job of broadcasting alerts for people who are inside during a storm,” he said.