CHARLOTTE, NC — This week marks Severe Weather Preparedness Week in North Carolina — an event that has become all the more significant in the wake of deadly tornadoes ripping through parts of the southeast Sunday.
As part of the weather preparedness events that will take place the week of March 3, a statewide tornado drill is planned for Wednesday, March 6 at 9:30 a.m., according to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Emergency Management officials.
Emergency officials are encouraging North Carolina schools, businesses and residences participate in the drill.
“The National Weather Service will send a test alarm through the State Emergency Alert System and local radio broadcasters,” said CMEM. “Participation in the drill is easy: on March 6 at 9:30 a.m., practice your severe weather safety plan, and seek shelter for a few minutes as if a tornado was headed your way. Residents are encouraged to practice their plan when the weather is good so that they will be able to react more quickly when there is an actual emergency.”
Here are some key points to remember about the drill scheduled for Wednesday, says the National Weather Service:
- The drill will be broadcast on NOAA Weather Radio and the Emergency Alert System via the Required Monthly Test (RMT). There will not be an actual Tornado Warning issued.
- This drill and RMT will take the place of the usual weekly NOAA Weather Radio Alert test (RWT). That is, there will not be a weekly radio test done between 11 a.m. and Noon on that day.
- Most NOAA Weather Radio receivers (including the Midland WR-100 that many schools have) do not sound an audible alert for the RMT product, but instead, may have a blinking light on the display to indicate that an RMT was received. As such, when the RMT for the statewide tornado drill is initiated at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, March 6, 2019, there’s a good chance that your NOAA Weather Radio will not sound an alarm.
- Since your NOAA Weather Radio may not sound an alarm at the time the RMT is issued, you will want to do one of the following: simply plan to start your tornado drill own your own at 9:30 a.m.; or, you can manually turn on your NOAA Weather Radio receiver around 9:25 a.m., and simply listen to the audio broadcast to hear when the RMT is issued, which will mark the beginning of the statewide tornado drill.
- There will be no followup statements issued by the NWS to mark the end of the statewide tornado drill. It will simply be over when your group, school, business, organization, or family feel that you have adequately practiced your tornado shelter procedures.
- If there is actual severe weather occurring on the morning of March 6, 2019, the statewide tornado drill will be postponed. The alternate date for the drill is Friday, March 8, 2019 at 9:30 a.m. EST.
Sunday, a series of deadly tornadoes in Alabama and Georgia claimed at least 23 lives in a storm system that leveled homes and businesses.
The National Weather Service has compiled a map of historical tornadoes recorded in the Carolinas. Here’s a list of some of the biggest tornadoes recorded in Mecklenburg County:
- On March 27, 1994, a F3 tornado with winds speeds between 136 mph – 165 mph struck York, Gaston and Mecklenburg counties, from Lake Wylie to Eastland Mall. The tornado’s path was 18.5 miles long with a width of 200 yards. While there were no fatalities reported, two people were injured.
- On March 10, 1992, an F2 tornado with winds speeds between 111 mph – 135 mph touched down around 9 p.m. near Pineville. Its path was about 3.4 miles long and about 180 yards wide, and 18 people were injured.
- On March 3, 2012, a F2 tornado with winds speeds between 111 mph – 135 mph touched down near University of North Carolina Charlotte, traveling nearly 3 miles towards Harrisburg. Four injuries were reported.
Emergency officials recommend residents use the following tornado safety tips:
- Know the terms: WATCH means a tornado is possible. WARNING means a tornado has been spotted; take shelter immediately.
- Know where the nearest safe room is, such as a basement or interior room and away from windows, and go there immediately if you hear or see a tornado.
- If driving, you should leave your vehicle immediately to seek safety in an adequate structure. Do not try to outrun a tornado in your vehicle, and do not stop under an overpass or a bridge.
- If you are outdoors, and there is no shelter available, take cover in a low-lying flat area. Watch out for flying debris. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Emergency Management
- Following a storm, wear sturdy shoes, long sleeves and gloves when walking on or near debris, and be aware of exposed nails or broken glass.
- Be aware of damaged power or gas lines and electrical systems that may cause fires, electrocution or explosions.
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