Monday, March 29, 2010

Spring means strong storms

We're only one week into spring and already a tornado has struck the NEWS7 viewing area. On Sunday night, March 28, a severe thunderstorm with rotation spawned a brief tornado in Halifax County near Alton and Turbeville. Meteorologists at the National Weather Service have determined this was a very weak tornado. It was rated an EF0. Despite its "weak" rating, the storm packed a punch. An EF0 tornado has winds between 65 and 85mph. Winds Sunday night in the Halifax County twister were estimated around 75mph. The tornado was on the ground for only a few seconds beginning at 10:02pm, but caused a mess. Several out buildings had roof damage, and one unoccupied mobile home was flipped over and destroyed (see photo above).

As meteorologists, we often stress that NOW is the time to prepare for severe weather. When a tornado warning is issued, you need to know what to do. That is NOT the time to figure out what you and your family need to do to stay safe. Preparation is easy and cheap. Basements, bathrooms, rooms without windows - are great places to ride out the storm. Buy a NOAA weather radio. Have a flashlight charged or loaded with fresh batteries. Exit mobile homes (see photo above).

It's also a good time of the year to point out that it's our job to warn the public of severe storms. We will "crawl" information at the top of the screen as long as we can, but the second a tornado warning is issued we will cut-in over programming. Golf, Cold Case, Undercover Boss, Wheel of Fortune - it all takes a back seat to a tornado warning. We know tornadoes are small in size and affect a tiny area of our huge coverage area, but it's our job - plus the FCC requires us to cut-in to keep the public informed. As soon as we pass along important information we'll get you back to our programming. We want to keep you safe - and we want you to enjoy great CBS programming. Our severe weather cut-ins are not designed to make your life miserable. :-)

One tornado down, and perhaps more to come this spring and summer. Take a few minutes and come up with a severe weather action plan. Thanks for watching "Your Hometown Station" WDBJ7!

The Enhanced Fujita Scale

EF0 wind speeds 65-85mph
EF1 wind speeds 86-110mph
EF2 wind speeds 111-135mph
EF3 wind speeds 136-165mph
EF4 wind speeds 166-200mph
EF5 wind speeds greater than 200mph

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