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Preparation is key in storm survival

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Posted: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 12:00 am

While southern Christian County has already experienced tornadoes in 2013, the official start of the tornado season is Friday.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 70 people died in tornadoes last year. Kentucky led all states with 23 tornado fatalities in 2012, with 10 of those coming as a result of an EF-3 tornado on March 2 in Menifee and Lawrence counties in east-central Kentucky.

Many experts say that preparedness is the key to avoid being a tornado fatality.

Randy Graham, the director of the Christian County Emergency Management Agency, said there are 22 warning sirens located around the county, which are tested on the first Tuesday of the month.

He added that while there are no public shelters for those who may need them in case of a tornado, there are locations that will take in people when a tornado warning is given. Those include the Oak Grove Community Center, Pembroke Baptist Church, Second Baptist Church of Hopkinsville and Crofton City Hall. These locations are not available as shelters until  there is a specific tornado threat.

Christian County Weather Spotters, who work with the National Weather Service office in Paducah, held a training session at Hopkinsville Community College on Monday to learn what to look for when severe weather comes.

The session was led by forecaster Christine Wielgos, a 13-year member of the NWS in Paducah. She reviewed several of the terms that most people are familiar with, but may not know the actual definitions.

A tornado watch means that conditions are favorable for the formation of tornadoes, and may be placed across a large area over an extended time. It does not mean that a tornado has been sighted, but people should be ready to take action, should a tornado form. A severe thunderstorm watch is similar to a tornado watch in that conditions are favorable for the formation of severe thunderstorms. These are issued by the Storm Prediction Center.

A tornado warning means that a tornado has been sighted by a person or indicated on radar. It is usually placed in a specific area or county, and generally lasts for about 45 minutes. A severe thunderstorm warning means that a severe thunderstorm is eminent. Warnings are issued by the National Weather Service.

If a tornado warning is issued, people should go to the basement or the lowest floor of the house into an interior room with as few windows as possible, like a closet or bathroom. Protect your head, with a bicycle helmet, mattress, pillows or blankets.

If you live in a mobile home, leave it and seek shelter at a family member’s house, a friend’s house or public shelter.

Severe thunderstorms produce quarter-sized hail or larger or 58-mph winds or higher.

There are several ways for people to keep up-to-date with weather conditions and changing situations. Wielgos recommended the NWS website for the Paducah office, which can be found at The NWS office in Paducah oversees 48 counties in Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana and Missouri, including Christian County and all adjacent counties.

A weather radio is also a good source for updated weather information. Wielgos said that many lives lost in tornadoes — especially late-night tornadoes — could have been saved if people had weather radios. Wielgos said a weather radio is not a source of information but an alarm. When it goes off, people go to their TV or computer for information.

“A lot of people say, ‘Well, it goes off all the time; it drives me insane,’” she said. “There are only a couple of reasons why a weather radio would be driving you insane. The No. 1 reason is: The weather radio that you own is not a SAME (Specific Area Message Encoding) radio. If your weather radio is not a SAME radio, it will go off all the time. A SAME radio, you can program in just the counties that you want it to go off for.”

Weather radios can be found at Walmart, Radio Shack, Walgreen’s and other stores for a variety of prices, depending on the types of capabilities you are looking for. Prices can range from $20 to $70.

“If you don’t already have one, please, please, consider getting one,” Wielgos said. “Put fresh batteries in it, because when the power goes out, those batteries take over, and that will be your lifesaver if something bad were to happen.”

Flooding is another weather concern in warmer weather. Wielgos said that for every foot of water that rises on a vehicle, 1,500 pounds of weight is displaced.

“In a couple of feet of water, some cars are already weightless,” she said.

She advised against going through flood waters at night because people can’t see the conditions of the road underneath the water. When approaching flood water on the road, it is best to turn around and seek another route.

“People need to know the safety precautions to take any time you have something approaching, such as a severe thunderstorm warning or a tornado warning,” said David Powell, the weather coordinator for Christian County Emergency Management. “Just practice the general safety rules, the common sense stuff: get into an interior room with no windows and do whatever you need to do to protect yourself. Take the warnings seriously.”

David Snow is the editor of The Eagle Post. Reach David at 270-887-3295 or

Copyright 2015 The Eagle Post . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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1 comment:

  • AriesH posted at 1:18 am on Mon, Apr 8, 2013.

    AriesH Posts: 1

    Thanks for posting. With regards to preparing for a storm, a lot of people say better safe than sorry. Get the things you want when a storm caution is shown to you. If you end up stuck in your home or without electricity for a couple of days, you will want a few things. It is worth the payday advance loan to make sure you have candles, blankets and food. Get more information at: Payday Advance Loan


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