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Ready Rowan has tips for Severe Weather Awareness Week

This year, North Carolina’s annual Severe Weather Awareness Week (March 2-8) corresponds with the National Severe Weather Preparedness Week, which is sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). During the week, members of the Rowan County community are asked to “be a force of nature” and better prepare for severe weather threats across the state.
North Carolina’s annual statewide Tornado Drill for 2014 will take place on Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. The drill will be broadcast on NOAA Weather Radio and the Emergency Alert System via the required monthly test. The backup date is Friday, March 7, at 9:30 a.m.
The local observance of Severe Weather Awareness Week is an effort to increase awareness of severe weather and to motivate individuals, families, businesses, across our county and municipalities to take actions that will prepare them in the event of severe weather.
During the past year, North Carolina experienced 10 tornadoes and nearly 500 incidents of severe thunderstorms with damaging winds or large hail. This resulted in three deaths, 10 injuries and more than $11 million in damages across the state.
Several times during the year, these conditions were experienced here in Rowan County. Every school, business and workplace across the state is strongly encouraged to participate in the Statewide Tornado Drill at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday. It makes sense to practice what you would do if a tornado warning is issued for your home, school, business or workplace.
Three main components of the “Be a Force of Nature” theme
• Know your risk: The first step to becoming weather-ready is to understand the type of hazardous weather that can affect where you live and work in Rowan County, and how the weather could impact you and your family. Check the weather forecast regularly and visit www.ReadyROWAN.org to learn more about how to be better prepared and how you can protect your family during emergencies.
• Pledge to take action: When you pledge to prepare, you will take the first step to making sure that you and your family are prepared for severe weather. This includes filling out a family communications plan, putting an emergency kit together, keeping important papers and valuables in a safe place and getting involved. Get a NOAA weather radio, and check to see if your cell phone is equipped to receive wireless emergency alerts and sign up for localized alerts from Emergency Management officials. Stay informed by having multiple sources for weather alerts.
• Be an example: Once you have taken action, share your story with your family and friends — post your story on Facebook, comment on a blog, or send a Tweet. Studies show that many people use social media in the event of a disaster to let relatives and friends know they are safe. This is an important trend because people are most likely to take preparedness steps if they observe the preparations taken by others. Social media provides the perfect platform to demonstrate preparedness actions for others.
Each year many people are killed or seriously injured by severe weather, including tornadoes and other types of severe weather, despite advance warning.
In North Carolina alone, there were 10 tornadoes which injured several people and resulted in more than $6 million in damage.
Because severe weather knows no boundaries and affects every individual, The first step in being a force of nature is knowing your risk. Here are a few statistics about North Carolina’s severe weather risks:
• North Carolina experiences about 40 to 50 thunderstorm days per year.
• While tornadoes can happen anywhere in the state, climate analysis show our area of the state is at risk for tornadoes to occur.
• Severe gusts of wind from a thunderstorm called microbursts, downbursts or straight line winds are a serious danger and can result in injuries and fatalities.
• Hail is a threat to life and property and has been responsible for losses across our county and millions of dollars’ worth of damage in North Carolina.
• There have been 12 lightning deaths in the state during the past 10 years.
In addition, our local preparedness website: www.ReadyROWAN.org provides information about what your community could expect to face this severe weather season.

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