During a period of calm weather, the National Weather Service (NWS) is encouraging citizens to be prepared in case of inclement weather. In partnership with Governor Nathan Deal and the Georgia Emergency Management Agency, the NWS designated February 6 through 10th as “Severe Weather Awareness Week” and issued a state-wide tornado drill on Wednesday morning.
In Georgia, a myriad of weather-related hazards and disasters - including flooding, drought, lightning, thunderstorms, tornadoes, tropical cyclones, and winter storms - threaten citizens year-round. In 2009, historic flooding occurred in several counties in north Georgia, causing over $250 million in damage and prompting 17 counties to receive Federal Disaster Declarations. Eight people lost their lives during the floods. Many died when floodwaters swept their vehicles off of the road.
From April 25 - 27, 2011, nearly 350 people died during a tornado outbreak that raked through Alabama and Georgia. In Catoosa County alone, over $25 million in property damage occurred when an EF4 tornado destroyed the town of Ringgold, Georgia, killing 8 people and injuring 30 others. On April 27th, 15 tornadoes occurred within a 24-hour period, and they affected 28 counties within Georgia. Though super outbreaks like the late April 2011 event are rare, Georgia still experiences weather conditions that support tornado development in each month of the year.
Meteorologists use two different alerts, each describing a different sense of urgency, to warn of potential weather hazards. A weather “watch” indicates that conditions are favorable for the weather hazard to occur. A weather “warning” means that the weather hazard is imminent – it is either occurring, or it is about to occur at any moment. The NWS encourages those affected by weather watches to prepare for dangerous weather and to take any necessary precautions. During a warning, the NWS encourages those affected to head to safety immediately.
Additional information about severe weather in Georgia can be found at the NWS’s website, http://www.srh.noaa.gov/ffc/?n=swaw12_main.