2013 Severe Weather Awareness Week
Alabama and Tennessee: Sunday, February 17 - Friday, February 22

Governors Robert Bentley of Alabama and Bill Haslam of Tennessee have proclaimed  Alabama and Tennessee's Severe Weather Awareness Week this February to be from Sunday, February 17th through Friday, February 22nd.  Your National Weather Service, the Alabama and Tennessee Emergency Management Agencies, and other supporting organizations, ask your help in providing your relatives, friends, and neighbors with information about severe weather safety.  Although severe weather outbreaks along with the potential for strong to violent tornadoes is more common during March, April and May, severe weather can happen at any time throughout the year here in the Tennessee Valley. So, take time now to learn more about severe weather and develop a safety plan of action when severe weather watches or warnings are issued.  These best practices could save your life, and the lives of others.

Educational activities and drills will be held throughout the week to promote safety and awareness of specific severe weather phenomena such as; tornadoes, damaging winds, flash floods, lightning, and hail. Each day of the week focuses on a specific type of severe weather

The table below shows the severe weather theme for each day. Click on the links in the table to learn more about each severe weather-related topic.

Severe Weather Awareness Week Schedule
February 17
The week begins by highlighting SKYWARN (Amateur Radio Volunteers) and the Emergency Managers Weather Information System (EMWIN).
February 18
Severe Thunderstorms and Damaging Winds
Damaging winds from severe thunderstorms are much more frequent than tornadoes in the Tennessee Valley. These "straight line" winds can exceed 80 MPH, at times, and can cover a much broader area than tornadoes.
February 19
Lightning is the underrated killer. All thunderstorms have lightning, and this hazard can be deceptively deadly.
February 20
Tornado Safety
The best way to survive a tornado is to be prepared ahead of time and have immediate access to a safe shelter (i.e. safe room/basement). Do not look for additional confirmation when a Tornado Warning is in effect for your area!!  Be prepared to take immediate action!
February 21
Flooding and Flash Flooding
Flooding is one of the top 3 weather-related killers in the United States. Flash flooding is a life threatening situation that can occur when water rapidly rises in flood prone areas and can catch people off guard. River flooding is a longer-duration event that can cause more widespread destruction.
February 22
NOAA All-Hazards Weather Radio 
NOAA Weather Radio (NWR) is the voice of the National Weather Service, and is your fastest way to receive automated warnings in case of severe weather. During hazardous weather, normal broadcasts are interrupted for severe weather watches and warnings, as well as other critical severe weather products.
If you have not done so already, this is the time of the year to check your preparedness plans.
  • Make sure your NOAA All-Hazards Weather Radio has fresh batteries.
  • Make sure you have a means of receiving severe weather information.
  • Make sure you know what to do if severe weather approaches.

 Primary Severe Weather Season Ahead!!

Remember, strong to violent tornadoes and severe weather can occur in January and February, prior to the peak of the severe weather season.  Recent examples were the tornado events of March 2, 2012 and January 21st, 2010 (damage from this event seen below).  One tornado hit the city of Sewanee, Tennessee (left) and another stronger (EF-2) tornado affected the city of Huntsville, Alabama (right).  Across the Tennessee Valley, it is important to BE PREPARED for tornadoes and severe thunderstorms throughout the entire year!

The most active period of severe weather and tornadoes in the Huntsville Forecast Area historically occurs during the months of March through May. In fact, EF-3 to EF-5 tornadoes (strong to violent) are most typical during these months and a heightened weather awareness is even more important. Last year's unprecedented tornado outbreak of April 27, 2011 was a grim reminder of how dangerous severe weather can be across the Tennessee Valley. Below are a few pictures of tornadoes and damage from the super tornado outbreak of April 27, 2011. 

This picture of a tornado was taken near the Guntersville Dam.
This picture of a tornado was taken in Marshall

This is a picture of damage from the Marshall/Cullman/Morgan EF-4 tornado.

This is a picture of damage from the Dekalb, AL/Dade, GA EF-5 tornado.

Additional Weather Safety Information
  • Tornado Safety in Schools Brochure (PDF) - Tips and suggestions for keeping students safe in the event of a tornado, including a poster you can fill out with local safety information.
  • NOAA Weather/All-Hazards Radio | Brochure (PDF) - Details on transmitters and SAME codes that you can use to set your NOAA Weather/All-Hazards Radio.
  • Lightning | Brochure (PDF) - Information on the dangers of lightning, including facts and statistics specific to the Tennessee Valley.
  • Flash Floods and River Floods - While tornadoes are a big threat to the area, flash flooding kills more people per year than any other weather hazard. Find out more through this brochure.
  • Tennessee Valley Tornado Database - Check out details on the tornadoes that have hit the area since 1874 (not yet including February's tornadoes).
  • Public Service Announcement from Elwood Blues of the Alabama Blues Brothers:
     NOAA Weather Radio (0:48 MP3)

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