With a statewide tornado drill scheduled for Tuesday, March 16 at 9:07 a.m., we are reminded that along with the benefits of warm spring weather, severe thunderstorms, tornados, and heavy rains may also appear, and being prepared for them can save lives.

According to the National Weather Service, it is important to become “Storm Ready” before an actual severe weather event occurs. Severe weather conditions can pop up at any time leaving you little time to take action. Being ready for this type of weather can better your chances for survival, as well as your family’s.

Logan County is fortunate to have an agency keeping an eye out in case severe storms hit. Rodney Harkleroad serves as Director of the Logan County Emergency Management. He and his assistant, Terry Cole, and many volunteers help the community during weather events but it makes their jobs safer as well when citizens have a plan in place to protect themselves before bad weather hits.

Emergency Management takes the time each spring to inform the public before severe weather happens about the importance of getting a plan in place and following it.

“Spring weather can be unpredictable,” said Harkleroad. “Being prepared can mean the difference in life and death. Planning ahead of time makes sense and can save lives. When severe weather hits, sometimes there are no warning signs. By having a plan in place, you are ahead of the game.”

Disaster preparedness is about having an established safety plan. Whether it’s preparedness for thunderstorms, floods, tornadoes, or straight-line winds, the key to survival in disasters is planning. Make a plan, and most importantly, remain safe in an emergency.

Harkleroad reminds Logan’s citizens to stay indoors when severe weather hits. Severe storms are often accompanied by strong lightening. If you are outdoors, seek shelter immediately. Stay away from trees and out of water. Keep watching the weather. If the power goes out, use a radio. This way, you will be informed if there is a tornado. Logan County has several warning sirens that will sound if a tornado has been spotted in the area.

Spring is the time of year when many things change. Temperatures can swing back and forth between balmy and frigid. Sunny days may be followed by a week of stormy weather. Sometimes extreme weather changes can occur even within the same day. Thunderstorms cause most of the severe spring weather. They can bring lightning, tornadoes, and flooding. Whenever warm, moist air collides with cool, dry air, thunderstorms can occur. For much of the world, this happens in spring and summer.

Tornadoes are nature’s most violent storms. Spawned from powerful thunderstorms, tornadoes can cause fatalities and devastate a neighborhood in seconds. A tornado appears as a rotating, funnel-shaped cloud that extends from a thunderstorm to the ground with whirling winds that can reach 300 miles per hour. Damage paths can be in excess of one mile wide and 50 miles long. Every state is at some risk from this hazard.

Some tornadoes are clearly visible, while rain or nearby low-hanging clouds obscure others. Occasionally, tornadoes develop so rapidly that little, if any, advance warning is possible. Before a tornado hits, the wind may die down and the air may become very still. A cloud of debris can mark the location of a tornado even if a funnel is not visible. Tornadoes generally occur near the trailing edge of a thunderstorm. It is not uncommon to see clear, sunlit skies behind a tornado.

Always be alert to changing weather conditions. Listen to WRUS Radio at 610 AM, NOAA Weather Radio, or stay tuned to television newscasts for the latest information. Look for approaching storms and be aware of the following danger signs:

• Dark, often greenish sky

• Large hail

• A large, dark, low-lying cloud (particularly if rotating)

• Loud roar, similar to a freight train.

If you see approaching storms or any of the danger signs, be prepared to take shelter immediately.

If you are in a structure (e.g. residence, small building, school, nursing home, hospital, factory, shopping center, high-rise building), go to a pre-designated shelter area such as a safe room, basement, storm cellar, or the lowest building level. If there is no basement, go to the center of an interior room on the lowest level (closet, interior hallway) away from corners, windows, doors, and outside walls. Put as many walls as possible between you and the outside. Get under a sturdy table and use your arms to protect your head and neck. Do not open windows.

If you are in a vehicle, trailer, or mobile home, get out immediately and go to the lowest floor of a sturdy, nearby building or a storm shelter. Mobile homes, even if tied down, offer little protection from tornadoes. If outside with no shelter, lie flat in a nearby ditch or depression and cover your head with your hands. Be aware of the potential for flooding. Do not get under an overpass or bridge. You are safer in a low, flat location. Never try to outrun a tornado in urban or congested areas in a car or truck. Instead, leave the vehicle immediately for safe shelter. Watch out for flying debris. Flying debris from tornadoes causes most fatalities and injuries.

The City of Russellville and Auburn have Community Outdoor Warning Sirens. These sirens, better known as C.O.W.S. are warning systems that alert residents of impending danger, helping them to take the necessary precautions to protect their lives and property. This siren in Russellville is located at the beginning of Orndorff Mill Road, while the siren in Auburn is located near the water tower at the end of Lincoln Street.

The City of Russellville also has a siren, which is located on top of the police station. The siren can be heard every day at noon with one long howl, however, if it is a warning for a tornado, the siren will wail out in several short intervals letting people know a tornado has been spotted and to take cover. Another siren in the Russellville area is out by Wal-Mart and is operated by the Russellville Rural Fire Department.

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