Spring is just around the corner, and those warmer days often bring severe weather.
In preparation for the potential weather that could strike in the upcoming season, all schools across the state and county will be participating in a tornado drill, allowing the staff and students a chance to practice emergency plans.
On Wednesday, March 8, at 9:30 a.m., school and government officials will participate in the statewide tornado drill, allowing the schools and government officials a chance to practice plans for emergency situations. The Emergency Alert System will broadcast when the drill is happening, and the governor encourages everyone who can, to participate.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper has declared March 5-11 Severe Weather Preparedness Week and urges North Carolinians to prepare and practice safety plans in case severe weather strikes.
“We’re about to hit peak severe storm season and we need to be ready for anything Mother Nature sends our way,” Cooper said. “Know the risks, have a family emergency plan in place, and stay alert to weather reports to help keep you and your loved ones safe.”
North Carolina is traditionally an active tornado and severe thunderstorm state and while severe weather can occur at any time of year, spring is the most active season. Today’s weather forecast shows much of North Carolina at risk for potentially severe storms this evening and overnight.
Local school officials are actively taking part in the drill, as both systems have been affected by the potential of severe weather and tornadoes in the past, prompting school officials to close schools early, getting students home and buses off the roadways before high winds hit the area and before the chance of tornadoes became a definite.
“We consider it a part of our responsibility to educate students about actions to take in severe weather,” Sampson County Schools superintendent, Dr. Eric Bracy said. “As we have experienced, weather can take a devastating toll on communities. When our students participate in drills and receive safety instructions, they pass along this knowledge to their families.”
Clinton City Schools Superintendent Dr. Stuart Blount reiterated the importance of informing students about proper safety measures to take during sever situations.
“The statewide emergency preparedness week is another example of how ‘Preparing the Future, Together!’, is tried and true,” Blount said. “We can never be too prepared when it comes to the safety of our students and employees. Safety remains a top priority. The statewide drill provides an opportunity for our students and employees to practice the tornado drill, prior to an actual emergency situation. Practicing emergency preparedness in our schools is vital.”
Unfortunately, North Carolina is no stranger to severe weather.
In 2016, the National Weather Service (NWS) issued 61 tornado warnings for North Carolina and recorded 16 tornadoes. There were 121 flash flood warnings issued last year and 121 incidents of flash flooding across the state, many of which were associated with Hurricane Matthew.
In addition, the NWS issued 697 severe thunderstorm warnings, and recorded 827 incidents of severe thunderstorms with damaging winds and/or large hail. Numerous severe storms, flash flooding, tornadoes and hurricanes caused severe damage and loss of life.
“I urge everyone to participate in the statewide tornado drill and take the time to practice what you’ll do when severe weather inevitably strikes,” Cooper added.
In the case of a live tornado, emergency officials urge residents to seek shelter and go inside a sturdy building, stay away from windows, as wind can cause damage, go to the lowest floor of the structure and into an inside room with no windows and remember that lightening remains a threat until 30 minutes after the rain stops.
Before severe weather strikes, officials urge families to develop an emergency plan so each member knows what to do, where to go and who to call during an emergency.
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.