An upper level system and the associated cold front will approach the state today and push through overnight, the National Weather Service said Wednesday in a hazardous weather outlook. Thunderstorms are expected along and ahead of the front, mainly from this afternoon through early Friday morning.
Confidence continues to increase that isolated severe storms will accompany this system in the form of a squall line with damaging winds, the statement said. However, large hail and a few tornadoes are possible.
Rainfall amounts will be heavy at times, especially across parts of north and west central Georgia where 1 to 2 inches are expected.
With tornado season underway, the Northwest Georgia Chapter of the American Red Cross urges residents in the northwest Georgia area to take steps now to stay safer when tornadoes threaten.
“By preparing together for tornadoes, we can make our families safer and our communities stronger,” Executive Director Jeffrey Putnam said in a press release. “We can help you and your family create a tornado preparedness plan now, before our community is threatened by severe weather.”
As with any disaster, preparation can be the difference between life or death. The Red Cross recommends that individuals and families prepare for tornadoes by:
• Creating and practicing a home tornado plan. Pick a “safe room” or uncluttered area without windows where family members and pets could seek shelter on the lowest floor possible: a basement, a center hallway, a bathroom or a closet. Putting as many walls between you and the outside provides additional protection.
• Assembling a emergency preparedness kit. Kits should contain a first aid kit and essential medications, foods that don’t require cooking or refrigeration and manual can opener, bottled water, flashlights and a battery-powered radio with extra batteries and other emergency items for the whole family.
• Heeding storm warnings. Listen to your local radio and TV stations for updated storm information. A tornado WATCH means a tornado is possible in your area. When a tornado WARNING is issued, go to the safe room you picked to protect yourself from glass and other flying objects. If you are outside, hurry to the basement of a nearby sturdy building. If you are in a car or mobile home, get out immediately and head to the nearest building for safety. If you are outside and there are no buildings, lie flat in a low lying area or ditch and cover your head with your arms and hands.
• Preparing for high winds. Make trees more wind resistant by removing diseased and damaged limbs, then strategically removing branches so that wind can blow through. Install permanent shutters on your windows and add protection to the outside areas of sliding glass doors. Strengthen garage doors and unreinforced masonry. Move or secure lawn furniture, outdoor decorations or ornaments, trash cans, hanging plants and anything else that can be picked up by wind and become a projectile.
The American Red Cross also has launched its official Tornado App, putting lifesaving information right in the hands of people who live in, visit or have loved ones in tornado-prone areas.
This free app — available in English or Spanish — gives iPhone, iPad and Android smartphone and tablet users instant access to local and real-time information, so they know what to do before, during and after a tornado. The app includes a high-pitched siren and “tornado warning!” alert that signals people when an NOAA tornado warning has been issued in their area — even if the app is closed. An “all clear!” alert lets users know when a tornado warning has expired or has been cancelled.
“Tornadoes often happen in the overnight hours when people are sleeping,” Putnam said. “The audible alerts in this app can save lives — even if users can’t monitor the weather because they are away from radio, TV or in places where weather band radios may not work.”
Launched during National Severe Weather Preparedness Week, the Tornado App is the latest in a series of mobile apps created by the Red Cross, the nation’s leader in emergency preparedness. The apps have been used to help save lives during hurricanes, earthquakes and wildfires.
“The Red Cross has made great strides in putting vital information in the hands of people who need it during emergencies. In fact, our apps are now on more than two million mobile devices across the country,” Putnam added.
The Tornado App, along with the others, can be found in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross or by going to redcross.org/mobileapps. Apps can help prepare people for disasters, but they are not a substitute for training. Red Cross First Aid and CPR/AED training empowers people to know how to respond to emergencies in case advanced medical help is delayed. People can visit redcross.org/takeaclass for course information and to register.
For more information on tornado preparedness, contact the Northwest Georgia Chapter of the American Red Cross at 706-278-5144 or 706-291-6648, visit www.redcross.org or call 1-800 RED CROSS.
The Red Cross responds to nearly 70,000 disasters each year and it helps people get ready to respond to emergencies by providing these apps for free. The Red Cross needs the help of the public to continue this lifesaving effort. People can make a donation to the Red Cross by going to redcross.org, texting REDCROSS to 90999 or by calling 1-800-REDCROSS.
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, visit redcross.org.