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Tornado season is upon us

As Sumter County residents, most of us are very aware we have entered tornado season. To be aware and prepared for any severe weather, The Americus Times-Recorder found out more facts on tornadoes and spoke with the county’s Emergency Management Director, Nigel N. Poole.

What is a Tornado? According to the National Weather Service, “Tornadoes are violently rotating columns of air, extending from the thunderstorm that is in contact with the ground. Tornadoes can vary in shape, size and intensity. Most tornadoes are weak, lasting a few minutes and producing winds of less than 100 mph. However, a few tornadoes are strong or even violent. These tornadoes last from 20 minutes to over an hour and can produce winds of between 100 and 300 mph.”

The National Weather Service goes on to state tornadoes are “most likely to occur from March to May, with the peak in April. Tornadoes are most likely in the mid-afternoon to early evening time frame.” Thirty-seven percent of all tornadoes are classified as strong or violent, and most of these occur during in April. In our state, it is often difficult to see a tornado as they are often wrapped in areas of rain and hail.

So, what does Nigel want us Sumter Countians to know? First, he wants everyone to have access to CODEred app. The app keeps you up to date on all emergency management alerts and is particularly helpful should the power go out. Please visit  www.sumtercountyga.us and click the code red tab on the middle of the page to sign up.  What do we do if a tornado were to hit? Nigel responds, “We have reopened our storm shelters. During last year’s Pandemic we had to keep them closed due to social distancing. We require that masks be worn in the safe rooms even if you have had your vaccine. The locations are at 127 William Bowen Pointe (behind GSP Post 10), and at 1601 N MLK Jr. Blvd in the same building as the Health Department and DFCS.” Please note these shelters are to be used in specific circumstances. As Nigel explains, “These rooms are meant for seeking shelter if you are out and about. These rooms are not meant for you to leave your home and relocate here.”  Nigel notes the importance of staying informed. While the CODEred app should be used as a primary tool for the quickest information, be mindful of the circumstances around you. “Pay attention to changing weather conditions and utilize your local news services.”

 

Also, when following the news or making note of the information coming from the app, know the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning. When asked, Nigel reminds us, “A tornado watch means the weather conditions, or ingredients, for tornadoes, are coming together over the next few hours.  A tornado warning is issued when a tornado or funnel cloud has been spotted or is detected using National Weather Service (NWS) radar.

 

To gather more information on tornadoes, please visit the following websites:

 

https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/tornadoes/index.html

 

https://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/tornado.html

 

https://www.weather.gov/ffc/swaw_tor