Mississippi Severe Weather Awareness Week Day 3: Tornadoes - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Mississippi Severe Weather Awareness Week Day 3: Tornadoes

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PINE BELT (WDAM) -

It is day three of Severe Weather Awareness Week in Mississippi. Today's topic is tornadoes.

The Pine Belt is all too familiar to the threat of tornadoes. So far this year, there have been 175 tornadoes in the southeast. Tornadoes are all too common threat in the Pine Belt, so much so, that it's has become a fact of life. Since 2013, three large tornadoes have tore through the area, causing extensive damage: One EF-4, and two EF-3s on the zero to five EF scale - where five is the most destructive.

There are three different alerts that the NWS uses to inform you about the threat of tornadoes.

-A Tornado Watch is issued in advance of storms developing.  It means that conditions are favorable for the development of severe weather and tornadoes. 

-A Tornado Warning is issued either when rotation is detected on radar or when a tornado has been sighted by a spotter or a radar debris signature. You should take immediate action to protect yourself.

-A Tornado Emergency is declared only when a large, violent tornado is confirmed to be on the ground.

You can get these alerts in multiple ways. Redundancy is the key and never rely on an outdoor tornado siren if you're indoors. 

"They are called outdoor warning sirens for a reason," said Marda Tullos, Jones County EMA director. "They are to be heard when you're outdoors."

Instead, you should use a NOAA Weather Radio. It can sound an alarm to alert you and even wake you up in the middle of the night.

So what do you do if a Tornado Warning is issued for your area? 

THE SAFEST PLACE TO BE IS A BASEMENT OR SAFE ROOM. BUT IF THAT'S NOT AN OPTION, GET TO AN INTERIOR ROOM ON THE LOWEST LEVEL OF A STURDY BUILDING. NOT A MOBILE HOME. INTERIOR CLOSETS OR BATHROOMS ARE OFTEN THE BEST PLACES. PROTECT YOUR HEAD WITH PILLOWS, BLANKETS, OR EVEN HELMETS. ALWAYS BE AWARE THAT FLYING DEBRIS IS POSSIBLE.

Also, don't forget to take a pair of shoes.

"Put your shoes on," said Glen Moore, the Forrest County EMA director. "I know that sounds crazy but, we had a lot of injuries during the past tornado from people stepping on nails and stepping on glass."

Moore also said that the Forrest County shelter is open to everyone, regardless of where you call home. 

"If you come to the Forrest County shelter, and you're seeking a safe place to stay, you will not be turned away just because you are not a resident of the county," he said. 

As we enter the spring severe weather season, it is important to have a severe weather plan ready to go.

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