Pearl, Miss. – Because March, April and May bring the greatest threat of severe weather to Mississippi, Gov. Phil Bryant has declared Feb. 29-March 4 as Spring Severe Weather Preparedness Week.
National Weather Service records show there have been 801 confirmed tornadoes and 2,321 reports of large hail in Mississippi in the spring months since 1950.
A look at the statistics since 1950:
• 232 tornadoes and 1,012 hail reports in March
• 375 tornadoes and 677 hail reports in April
• 204 tornadoes and 632 hail reports in May
“Mississippians have learned that we must be prepared for severe weather just about every month; but historically, the spring has been the most active and deadly,” Gov. Bryant said. “Knowing how to receive alerts and having a plan has proven to save lives.”
March 3 will mark the 50th anniversary of one of the worst tornadoes to hit Mississippi. The EF-5 twister known as the “Candlestick Tornado” formed in Hinds County and stayed on the ground for 202 miles through Rankin, Scott, Leake, Neshoba, Kemper and Noxubee counties, before crossing into Alabama. The storm killed 12 people in Hinds, six in Rankin and 26 in Scott County. There were a total of 58 deaths and 518 injuries.
“Technology has advanced to the point where there are so many different ways to receive warnings that allow you to take action in advance of any storm,” said MEMA Director Lee Smithson. “It is so important for people living in mobile or manufactured homes to find safer places to stay when severe weather threatens, whether that be with family, friends or community safe rooms.”
The National Weather Service will issue a statewide test tornado warning on NOAA weather radios at 9:15 a.m. on Wednesday, March 2. Schools, government agencies and businesses throughout the state are encouraged to participate in the tornado drill.
MEMA and the NWS will focus on specific types of severe weather each day of the week on social media and websites. The outline is as follows:
• Monday, Feb. 29: Severe thunderstorms
• Tuesday, March 1: Flooding
• Wednesday, March 2: Tornado safety
• Thursday, March 3: Lightning
• Friday, March 4: Alerts and warnings
Local weather information and alerts are available through the NWS online at the following websites:
• Northern Mississippi counties: www.srh.noaa.gov/meg.
• Central Mississippi counties: www.srh.noaa.gov/jan.
• Southeastern Mississippi counties: www.srh.noaa.gov/mob.
• Coastal and southwestern Mississippi counties: www.srh.noaa.gov/lix.
There are several ways to receive severe weather warnings, like a NOAA weather radio, or one of several applications on mobile devices. A number of free mobile applications are available for download on smart phones, which can alert you when a watch or warning is issued for your area.
For detailed preparedness information, contact your county emergency management agency, or go to MEMA’s website at www.msema.org. The best way to get up-to-date information is to “Like” MEMA and the National Weather Service on Facebook, or “Follow” the agencies on twitter.