Severe Weather Awareness Week: Watching out for tornadoes


COFFEE COUNTY, Ala. (WDHN) — Our region is one of the few locations in the world that has two distinct severe weather seasons. 

The months March through May are known as the spring season and November through December, the fall season. 

“They’re similar to severe thunderstorms in the sense of the watches and warnings, which is where we want to make sure that you know the difference,” said Grant Lyons, deputy director of the Coffee County EMA. 

A watch means conditions are favorable for the development.

“However, it doesn’t mean that there is one in your area,” Lyons said. “So what we don’t want is for people to panic when a watch comes out so if a tornado watch is issued, you need to understand where you are on the map and know how to get your warnings.”

A warning means that a developing tornado has been detected on radar or by reported by reliable sources on the ground. 

“We want you to take action,” Lyons said. “You need to go somewhere safe.” 

A tornado is defined as a violently rotating column of air that is in contact with the ground.

Wind speeds can range from 65 mph to 318 mph (the highest tornado wind speed ever recorded). That’s why it’s a good idea to have an action plan and safety kit in place when chaos occurs. 

“That’s just something as simple as hey put some belongings: medicine, batteries, flashlights,” Lyons said. “And that’s just more or less to if something bad were to happen, we want to make sure you have a kit that you can use for a couple of days.”

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