Severe Weather Awareness Week focuses on preparing for tornadoes, floods

Severe weather months include March, April and May
Midwest Tornadoes
Posted at 3:20 AM, Feb 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-21 19:26:23-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — To make sure people are prepared for upcoming severe weather over the next several months, The National Weather Service is hosting its annual Severe Weather Awareness Week. It runs from February 20 to 26.

Tornadoes and floods are the biggest threats to Middle Tennessee, but every day this week is designated to a specific type of severe weather. Knowing what to do during those events is imperative.

According to the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, floods cost the state an average of $243 million every year. State officials predict that number may double by 2055, but say there is a way to be better prepared.

NewsChannel5's Lelan Statom says it's important to plan ahead. He says it starts by having at least two ways of getting severe weather notifications. That could be a weather radio or it could be the NewsChannel5 Storm Shield app.

"This is a great week to let people know what's up, but it's also a great week for people who've been here forever to refresh themselves to have a plan for the day or the middle of the night," Statom said.

Experts predict that over the next 30 years, about 400,000 properties in Tennessee have a greater than 26 percent chance of being severely impacted by flooding.

Warning Coordination Meteorologist Krissy Hurley said they purposely have this awareness week before the most severe weather months of March, April and May. She says it's just another way of helping those who are new to Tennessee better understand what spring storms are capable of.

Tornadoes and floods are the top two leading weather-related killers in the state, respectively. When it comes to floods, Hurley says it's one of those deceiving kinds of threats that you don't really think twice about.

"Floods can happen quickly, heavy rainfall and poor drainage areas can make them worse," Hurley said

Statom says what makes tornadoes in Tennessee even more dangerous is how many of them happen at night. Tennessee leads the nation in in these nighttime twisters, much like what we saw in March 2020 and as recently as last December.

"There may still be more tornadoes by number out to our west, but there is an unfortunate higher fatality rate for tornadoes in the southern states," Statom said.

Hurley said a common misconception is thinking you’ll be able to see it or know it’s coming ahead of time. She said now is the time to create a safety plan and this week can help you do that.

Free, online classes are happening each day this week through Saturday. Topics range from severe weather preparedness during floods, tornadoes and thunderstorms, as well as understanding how alerts and social media play a role during one of these events.

The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency and the Centers for Disease Control recommend making "go-kits" for your family.

Those include one gallon of water per-day, per-person and per-pet for three to five days. They also recommend packing multiple masks and disinfectant. Consider another pack with a flashlight, battery-powered radio and extra batteries.

Print out copies of important family documents and don't forget extra supplies of medication.

"We don't ever want you put in that situation where you’re sitting there trying to Google search what you should do during a tornado warning," said Hurley. "We want you to think about it now. Where’s the best place you can go? What’s the safest things you can do?"

You can register for classes and see a full rundown of the schedule here.