By Jim Stefkovich, Meteorologist, Alabama Emergency Management Agency
CLANTON – Even though we still have another month to go for the Hurricane season, Alabama is more likely to experience tornadoes and straight-line wind damage from severe thunderstorms during November and through the winter months. In fact, looking at the graphic above, only two months of the year have had more tornadoes than November across the state. So, we need to start focusing now on severe weather preparation.
Why do the winter months, especially November have so much severe weather? For the same reasons as spring. All the ingredients to fuel severe thunderstorms including warm and moist air near the surface, winds increasing with height the allow rotation, and cold air aloft the fuel thunderstorm growth, occur in both seasons.
The picture to the right shows an actual line of severe thunderstorms moving through the state. Although many people focus on tornadoes and tornado warnings, most and widespread damage actually occurs from severe thunderstorms, not tornadoes! Thus, you need to take severe thunderstorm warnings seriously!
Are you prepared for the upcoming season? Make sure you have at least two methods to receive severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings. DO NOT rely on a single source to receive warnings. It is recommended you have NOAA Weather Radio, which can be set up for the specific county you live in and sounds like a smoke detector going off when a warning is issued. This could save your life in the middle of the night. Get an appropriate app for your cell phone. Outdoor warning sirens are another potential method, but just remember, sirens are meant for people outdoors, not indoors.
If a warning is issued, know where you should go, whether at home, work or other places. Go to the lowest floor and put as many walls as possible between you and the outside. Put on a bicycle or football helmet. Many injuries occur due to blunt force trauma to the head. If driving, get off the road and into a sturdy building.
Let’s all be prepared, both for ourselves and our loved ones for the upcoming season!