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Weather Officials Urge Tornado Safety

By Evelina Burnett | Published 30 Oct 2013 06:00am | comments
The National Weather Service is holding a statewide tornado drill this morning at 9:15 a.m. There were 47 tornadoes in Mississippi last year, and November is one of the most active months.

Safety officer John Willie Dedeaux gives directions as he heads out to make sure everyone is in place during a tornado drill at Pass Christian Elementary and Middle Schools. Students are lined up in stairwells and hallways, crouched down, hands covering their heads.

Dedeaux says these drills are vital.

"The importance of them is making sure the teachers and kids go where they are supposed to go if something does happen, and myself and principals know where to go to check on people," he says. "We're always stressing the safety and when we do our drills, that we're doing them right."

This morning at 9:15 a.m, the National Weather Service will also hold a tornado drill, during its routine weekly test on NOAA weather radios. Steve Wilkinson is warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Jackson.

"You don't want to be making the decision of where to go and what to do when something's bearing down on you," he says. "This time of year is leading up to a secondary tornado season, so what we encourage people to do is to have a drill and know exactly what you would do."

April is the busiest month for tornadoes in Mississippi, but November and March are second busiest. In fact, the drill may be good preparation for as early as tomorrow.

"We have at least some risk of severe storms and weather on Thursday," Wilkinson says. "So coming right after the drill, there will be some chance of severe weather, possibly in the form of a tornado or two. So it's an immediate risk, coming right after the drill."

The National Weather Service also encourages residents to get NOAA weather radios, which automatically turn on at night during emergencies. Eighty percent of November tornadoes have occurred at night. 

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