PEARL – Gov. Phil Bryant has declared Oct. 22-26 as Fall Severe Weather Preparedness Week in Mississippi.
Mississippi is making the transition into fall, opening the severe weather season. The state has been hit by 783 tornadoes in the months of November through February since 1950, according to the National Weather Service. Tornadoes cause an average of eight deaths and 108 injuries per year in Mississippi.
In fact, a new study from Northern Illinois University and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has identified significant increasing trends of reported tornadoes and tornadic environments in Mississippi.
Severe weather extends far beyond the impacts of damaging winds and lightning. Flooding ranked number one in weather related fatalities in 2017. And in December of 2017, Mississippi experienced heavy snow, ice and freezing rain from the northern part of the state to the gulf coast region.
“We may be clear of any threat of tropical systems for the rest of the year, but unfortunately that means we must now prepare for other weather impacts that affect our state,” said Gov. Bryant. “I encourage all Mississippians to not only have a plan, but practice that plan on a regular basis, so that you are ready when severe weather strikes.”
Federal, state and local governments have invested millions of dollars in more than 100 safe rooms across Mississippi that are intended to protect citizens from severe weather. The buildings are constructed to withstand 200 mph winds. Check with your county emergency manager to find out the closest one in your area or where a local shelter will be available.
The National Weather Service will issue a statewide test tornado warning on NOAA weather radios at 9:15 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 24. Schools, government agencies and businesses throughout the state are encouraged to participate in the tornado drill.
“The state of Mississippi can experience very active severe weather events throughout the year. However, most of our tornadic activity occurs during the months of November through May. Citizens sometimes relate severe weather only to the spring time, but historical data has shown us that severe weather season in Mississippi often starts in the Fall and carries over into the Winter and Spring,” said Bill Parker, Meteorologist-in-Charge of the National Weather Service in Jackson, MS. “This is why Fall Severe Weather Preparedness Week is one of the most important awareness campaigns the NWS partners with MEMA on.”
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, Oct. 22: Alerts and Warnings. There are numerous ways to receive weather alerts from your cellphones to weather radios to mass notification systems.
- Tuesday, Oct 23: Severe Thunderstorms. Lightning, large hail and damaging winds from severe storms can be just as dangerous as tornadoes.
- Wednesday, Oct. 24: Tornado Safety. A statewide tornado drill will be conducted at 9:15 a.m.
- NOTE – If rainfall is expected during the morning, the tornado drill may be postponed until the next clear day.
- Thursday, Oct. 25: Flooding and Flash Flooding. Flooding is the number one cause of weather-related deaths behind heat. Remember… Turn Around, Don’t Drown.
- Thursday, Oct. 26: Winter Weather. Surprisingly, these winter events can affect the Magnolia State before winter officially begins in late December.
Local weather information and alerts are available through the NWS online at the following websites:
- Central Mississippi counties: www.weather.gov/jan.
- Coastal Mississippi counties: www.weather.gov/mob or www.weather.gov/lix.
- Northern Mississippi counties: www.weather.gov/meg.
There are several ways to receive severe weather warnings, like a NOAA weather radio, or one of several applications on mobile devices. There are a number of free mobile applications available for download on smart phones, which can alert you when a watch or warning is issued for your area. You can download MEMA’s free preparedness mobile app on your phone or tablet by searching “Mississippi EMA” in your app store.
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, @msemaorg and the National Weather Service on Facebook, or “Follow” us on Twitter, @msema.