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Prepare for spring's severe weather

Spring can be a paradise of blooming flowers, but it can swiftly turn into a weather-related nightmare. April, the first full month of spring, is the peak month for tornadoes in Tennessee.

“If I could stress anything, it would be weather awareness in the spring,” said E-911 director Chuck Haston, who suggests checking the National Weather Service website on a regular basis. “A minute or two out of your day is a small sacrifice and it could save your life.”

Tornados are unpredictable and can happen any time of the year. However, almost two-thirds of tornadoes take place in the spring months, Haston said.

The National Weather Service works to predict severe weather so residents can be prepared. 

“Severe weather outbreaks are usually predicted several days in advance by the National Weather Service so all it takes is a brief stop to the NWS Nashville website to stay up to speed,” said Haston. “I would encourage people to subscribe to any text notification system or purchase a weather radio. Weather radios are the best.”

The city of McMinnville, in conjunction with E-911, offers an outdoor warning system, but residents should not rely solely on that service, according to Haston.

“Outdoor siren systems are just that, outdoor, and are designed to warn those outdoors to take shelter and turn on their radio or TV,” said Haston. “Sirens are not designed to wake you up inside your house.”

Do you know the difference between a National Weather Service Severe Thunderstorm Watch and a Severe Thunderstorm Warning?

The difference between a watch and a warning:

• Severe Thunderstorm Watch means individuals need to be prepared. Severe thunderstorms are possible in and near the watch area. Stay informed and be ready to act if a severe thunderstorm warning is issued. The watch area is typically large, covering numerous counties or even states.

• Severe Thunderstorm Warning means individuals need to take action. Severe weather has been reported by spotters or indicated by radar. Warnings indicate imminent danger to life and property. Take shelter in a substantial building. Get out of mobile homes that can blow over in high winds. Warnings typically encompass a much smaller area (the size of a city or small county) that may be impacted by large hail or damaging wind.

Residents should call 911 to report severe weather.