Spring state#039;s second most active tornado season

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 17, 2005

This week is Alabama Severe Weather Awareness Week, sponsored by the National Weather Service, Alabama EMA and the American Red Cross.

Severe Weather Awareness Week is designed to increase the public's awareness of tornadoes, thunderstorms and other potentially devastating weather-related phenomenon. The State of Alabama currently has two distinct severe weather seasons and only just recently has the month of November passed March, April and May as the most active month for tornadoes. Between 2000-04, 81 tornadoes were reported in the month of November.

But this makes March and the spring season no less dangerous.

The complete randomness of a tornado is what makes it so deadly. During a dangerous thunderstorm, a funnel cloud can pop up at any moment. While warning systems such the Emergency Alert System can distribute warnings quickly and efficiently, only by acting fast, yourself, can you hope to possibly save your own life and the lives of your families. Tornadoes form quickly and you may only have a few seconds to react and find shelter.

Follow these rules, courtesy of the National Weather Service:

n In schools, nursing homes, hospitals, factories and shopping centers: Go to a pre-designated shelter area. Basements are the best, but interior hallways on the lowest floor usually offer protection. Close all the doors to the hallway for greater protection.

n In homes or small buildings: Go to the basement or a small interior room such as a closet, a bathroom, or an interior hallway on the lowest level. If available, get under something sturdy like a heavy table. Protect yourself from flying debris with pillows, heavy coats, blankets, or quilts. Use bicycle or motorcycle helmets, if available, to protect your head.

n Stay away from windows! Do not bother opening or closing them. It will not protect the structure. You will waste time and put yourself and possibly others at greater risk. Use those valuable seconds to find a place of safety.

n Stay away from doors and outside walls! Protect your head!

n In mobile homes or vehicles: Leave them and go to a strong building. If there is no shelter nearby, get into the nearest ditch, depression, or underground culvert and lie flat with your hands shielding your head.

Safety precautions like the ones above can greatly increase your survival should a tornado touch down in your immediate area.