March 8, 2007

Memphis to Host Storm Spotter Class as Part of Severe Weather Awareness Week

March is the traditional start of severe weather in Missouri and 2007 did nothing to dispel this belief as thunderstorms, tornadoes, snow and high winds whipped across much of the state.

Because of the history, March is observed as Disaster Preparedness Month statewide. Severe Weather Awareness Week is observed March 12th-16th.

As part of that observation, Scotland County Emergency Management Director Brian Whitney stated the NWS will host a storm spotter training class in Memphis on Tuesday, March 13th at the Memphis Fire Station beginning at 6:30 p.m. This event is free and open to the public. For more information contact Whitney at the Scotland County Sheriffís Department at 465-2106.

According to the National Weather Service (NWS) Missouri experienced a record year with 102 tornadoes in 2006. March roared in like a lion in 2007, with a number of confirmed twisters that caused extensive damage and claimed the life of a Missouri youth.

To help Missouriís citizens prepare for the beginning of the spring severe weather season, the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), the NWS, and local emergency management directors will conduct the Statewide Severe Weather Tornado Drill at 1:30 p.m., Tuesday, March 13.

ďBeing prepared to respond to a natural disaster is everyoneís responsibility,Ē said Ronald M. Reynolds, Director of the Missouriís State Emergency Management Agency.

According to the National Weather Service, Missouri experiences an average of 28 tornadoes every year. In the last several years, Missouri exceeded the average number of tornadoes. Missouri experienced 102 tornadoes in 2006, 32 tornadoes in 2005, 69 tornadoes in 2004, and 84 in 2003.

ďI encourage every school, citizen and business to participate in the statewide tornado drill and practice seeking secure, safe shelter during this exercise,Ē said Reynolds.

The drill takes less than 15 minutes to perform. Once the severe weather announcement is made, citizens are asked to seek shelter in the lowest level (basement if possible) interior room away from windows.

Schools and businesses might seek shelter in basements, hallways or under staircases. The drill also highlights the importance of accounting for everyone in your home, class or office.

The NWS Pleasant Hill, Springfield, St. Louis, Paducah, Davenport, and Memphis offices will initiate the statewide tornado drill exercise using the NOAA Weather Warning System, which also ties into the Emergency Alert System (EAS). Missouri Broadcasters are supporting the use of EAS for the Statewide Tornado Drill.

Weather Tone Alert Radios, and the EAS system will broadcast the tornado drill message over radios and television stations. Local emergency management directors will activate outdoor warning sirens for this drill.

If Missouri is experiencing statewide severe weather conditions, the National Weather Service will hold the statewide drill on the backup date, 1:30 p.m., Thursday, March 15, 2007.



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