Spring will be here in just a few short weeks. Its been a cold winter, and we all look forward to warmer weather and the beauty that comes with springtime. But we need to remember that springtime also brings severe weather to our area. In fact, the peak thunderstorm and tornado season in the south is during March, April and May.
Severe Weather Awareness Week in Georgia has been designated during the week of Feb. 16-22 to educate citizens about safety, preparedness and response procedures so that they will be prepared for a variety of severe weather events, such as thunderstorms, lightning, floods, tornadoes and hurricanes.
All thunderstorms are dangerous because they produce lightning, heavy rain, strong winds and hail, and tornadoes are also dangers associated with some thunderstorms. Nearly 1,800 thunderstorms are happening at any moment around the world. Thats 16 million a year!
Lightning kills about 100 people in the United States each year and has been known to strike more than 10 miles from the storm in an area of clear sky above.
Flash flooding is the No. 1 weather-related killer in the United States. Given enough rainfall in a short period of time, areas located in low spots or near creeks and streams are vulnerable to flash flooding, usually within six hours of a rain event.
Tornadoes are natures most savage and destructive storm. While tornadoes can form just about anywhere in the world, they are most frequent in the United States. In an average year, more than 1,000 tornadoes touch down, killing 60 people and causing around $850 million in damage nationwide.
Columbia County has had its share of deadly tornadoes in the past. The worst tornado recorded in Columbia Countys history occurred on March 20, 1875 at 12:40 p.m., killing 25 people, injuring 65 others, and destroying buildings. This tornado also affected Hancock, Warren and McDuffie Counties.
Do you and your family know how to protect yourselves?
The first step is to learn safety rules for each of the severe weather events. The Emergency Services office has safety information available and will also make group presentations upon request. You can also find safety information on the Columbia Coun-ty Web site at www.co.colubia.ga.us .
Once you learn the proper protective measures, you need to make sure you have a NOAA Alert Radio in your home and business so that you will be alerted when severe weather watches and warnings are issued by the National Weather Service - day or night. These can be purchased from any electronics store, with costs ranging from $20 to $80, depending on the type you choose.
Now, youre ready to practice your safety plans and test your NOAA Alert Radio during the Statewide Tornado Drill, which will be conducted by the Georgia Emergency Management Agency and the National Weather Service on Wednesday during the morning hours. The drill will begin with a watch, and a warning will be issued soon thereafter. Citizens, schools, businesses, churches and government offices all over Georgia will practice their tornado safety plans during this drill.
The Georgia Emergency Management Agency will have their State Mobile Command Vehicle on display on Tuesday from 9:30-11 a.m. in the front parking lot at the Evans Government Center. This fully equipped vehicle is dispatched from GEMA to communities following disasters to assist as a central command center for coordination between counties and the state.
The Georgia Emergency Management Agency will provide tours of the Mobile Command Vehicle and distribute informational bro-chures. The Columbia County Emergency Services office will hold a drawing at 11 a.m. to give away ten NOAA Alert Radios. All citizens are invited to come by.
Citizens or groups can schedule a time to come by the Emergency Services office for a tour of a model Safe Room. The Safe Room, which will withstand 250 mph winds, can be built in existing or new homes and businesses at a low cost.
I have heard many people say that if someone could bottle and sell peace of mind, they would be rich. Since we cant bottle it, maybe you will have peace of mind knowing what to do and how to protect your family when those springtime severe weather events occur.
For more information, you can contact the Emergency Services office at 868-3303 or email us firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Pam Tucker is director of the Columbia County Emer gency Services Division.)
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.