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April 1, 2014

Saturday’s tornadoes proved it only takes one storm

One storm produced two tornadoes on Saturday, March 29th, proving that one storm is all it takes.

On Saturday, March 29th, two tornadoes touched down in Wake County: one in Willow Spring and one in Garner. Luckily, they were EF0 rated and very short-lived. The storm took many people by surprise.

As of last Friday, the eastern half of the Carolinas down through Florida had been under a slight risk for severe weather for Saturday, but that changed Saturday morning. The clouds and rain we had Friday night through early Saturday greatly limited the amount of energy in the atmosphere available to produce any organized, sustained severe weather. So, that morning, the “slight risk” area was limited to Florida.

By Saturday afternoon, there were some breaks in the clouds – not many, but enough to let the sun peek through and add some heat to the atmosphere. That heat converted to energy, and a line of thundershowers took shape. For the most part, there was little thunder and a lot of rain, but one cell in particular also had rotation and it dropped those two weak tornadoes. It was a harsh reminder that it only takes one, rotating storm in a line to produce a tornado, or in this case, two tornadoes.

I had the honor of speaking to a community group in Efland early Saturday afternoon about emergency preparedness as it relates to weather. While most of my talk was focused on the recent winter weather that had downed trees and power lines in their area, I mentioned the coming spring storms. My point in mentioning them was to remind everyone that they need to have a plan.

I’ve written before about situational awareness when it comes to knowing your surroundings during severe weather. It’s worth repeating again, and it only takes a moment to put it into practice. Wherever you are right now, look around and ask yourself, “If a tornado were to hit while I am here, where would the safest shelter be?” Now I challenge you to do that everywhere you go. You might be at work or school or church or at the mall or even at an outdoor venue or park. It doesn’t matter where you are; just take a second to think about it.

Mother Nature doesn’t wait for convenient times or look for convenient places to unleash her fury. Not all storms are expected, and it only takes one to have disastrous results. The best way to deal with an emergency situation is to be prepared for it.

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