Forecasters: Heed our warningsPublished 9:56pm Tuesday, May 21, 2013
After the severe tornado outbreak in Oklahoma, John De Block, warning coordination meteorologist for the Birmingham National Weather Service, said it is extremely crucial that Alabama residents stay prepared for severe weather.
“Severe weather can happen in Alabama any month of the year,” De Block said. “We are in one of the most tornado prone areas in the country, and because of our hills and winding roads, we’re not going to be able to see them coming as well as they do perhaps out in the mid-west.”
De Block explained that although there are two main tornado seasons in the state — March through May and November through December — tornadoes pose a threat throughout the year. And because of Alabama’s risky weather climate, residents need to take weather warnings seriously, he said.
“We can have strong thunderstorm winds at speeds of 60 mph almost at any time, so we strongly encourage people to have multiple ways of getting weather information,” De Block said.
Several outlets are recommended by the Birmingham Weather Service to obtain severe weather information — the top one being the NOAA Weather Radio. Others include smart phone applications and of course regular television and radio, De Block said.
“There’s really almost no excuse for people not to be aware of the weather that’s going to happen and what’s expected,” he said. “By going to our safe places and being aware, we can mitigate the loss of lives by being prepared and knowing what to do when severe weather strikes.”
The last severe tornado outbreak that affected Alabama and surrounding regions occurred in 2011 between April 25 and 28. According to the National Weather Service, April 27 was the most active day of the outbreak with a record of 205 tornadoes touching down. In total, 348 people were killed as a result of the outbreak.
De Block said the Oklahoma outbreak should serve as a reminded to Alabama to always take severe weather threats seriously.
“A lot of people will talk about whether it was a strong tornado, a violent tornado, an F5 — but if that tornado strikes your home, it’s going to be severe regardless of how strong it is,” he said. “These tornadoes are life threatening.”