The message emergency officials hope to convey this week is for residents to get prepared, because severe weather doesn't wait.
Today through Saturday, state and local agencies will participate in Severe Weather Awareness Week 2006, highlighting the dangers of all types of severe weather, including thunderstorms, tornadoes, tropical storms and hurricanes, floods and even winter storms, said Pam Tucker, Columbia County's director of emergency services.
"(Severe Weather Awareness Week) is really inclusive of everything that can happen in the 12 months of the year," Tucker said. "At some point you have to find a week to focus (on preparation)."
Tucker said families need to have a plan of action in case severe weather strikes. That plan should include a designated room in a house to seek shelter in, an emergency kit including a three-day supply of food and water, and a weather radio. Parents also should teach their children how and when it is appropriate to contact emergency personnel.
"It's critical (to have an emergency plan)," Tucker said. "We as emergency responders throughout the county have our plans in place, and we practice them all the time. But citizens have a responsibility (to have their own plans in place).''
Each day of the week will focus on a particular type of severe weather, and schools and government agencies will participate in Wednesday's statewide tornado drill. A make-up date for the drill is set for Friday in case severe weather is imminent, Tucker said.
The peak season for severe thunderstorms and tornados in the Southeast is in the months of March, April and May, said Steve Naglic, the warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service in West Columbia, S.C.
Naglic said the severe weather is a result of the cold northern air of jet stream mixing with the warm air coming out of the Gulf of Mexico.
Though there were no official tornadoes in the Augusta area in the spring, five tornados touched down in 2005, during the months of January and December, Naglic said.
The storm that hit Columbia County on Jan. 13 caused only minor damage, he said.
A major concern for emergency officials this year is another record hurricane season that has been forecast for the Atlantic Ocean, Tucker said.
Georgia and the Carolinas were "unusually" fortunate to escape a direct and devastating strike from hurricanes in 2005, Naglic said.
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