HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Fall Severe Weather Preparedness Week continues in the Mississippi, and Wednesday's topic is something the Pine Belt is all too familiar with, Tornadoes.
Tornadoes are all too common threat in the Pine Belt, so much so, that it's has become a fact of life. And they're not just a springtime threat either. In fact, November is the third most active month for tornadoes in Mississippi.
The National Weather Service uses three different alerts to inform you about the threat of tornadoes.
The first is a tornado watch. It is issued before storms develop and means conditions are favorable for the tornadoes. You should remain on alert and ready to take action.
A Tornado Warning is issued either when rotation is detected on radar or when a tornado has been spotted on the ground. You should take immediate action to protect yourself.
Finally, there is a Tornado Emergency. It is only declared when a large, violent tornado is confirmed to be on the ground.
You can get these alerts in multiple ways, and redundancy is key.
Never rely on outdoor tornado siren if you're indoors. They are called outdoor warning sirens for a reason. 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. Interior closets or bathrooms are often the best places.Make sure to protect your head with pillows, blankets, or even helmets, and always be aware that flying debris is possible.
Also, don't forget to put your shoes on. 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. And remember, mobile homes are not safe during tornadoes. If you're in one, and you have time, immediately go to the nearest sturdy building or shelter.
As we enter the fall severe weather season, it's important to have a severe weather plan ready to go.