March 17, 2021 #TriCitiesWx Weather Update

As you might know if you listen to any of the stations I’m on, I’ve not been around recently. It’s no big deal, just me being on vacation for the week! I’ve been staying home the whole time, making sure the behind the scenes stuff works. Also, I’ve been watching weather, and it’s been a very interesting day today. Tomorrow will be as well, and that’s the topic of this post.

I’ve been watching the weather all afternoon long, with many tornado warnings in Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma today. I focused on watching Alabama for the most part, and the city of Selma has been under four different tornado warnings today! I’m sure they’ll be glad to not hear sirens or weather radio alerts for a while.

There are five levels of severe thunderstorm risk, as issued by the Storm Prediction Center. Parts of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama were in level 5 today. That doesn’t happen all that often. They will have a chance at seeing more intense thunderstorms tonight into tomorrow morning.

For us, our risk looks to be tomorrow, and nowhere near that high. We’re at level 2 out of 5 for Thursday. The most likely things we’ll get are loud storms with damaging winds and some hail is possible. Tornadoes aren’t out of the question, to be sure, as the SPC holds us in a 5% probability of having a tornado within 25 miles. You might think that’s not a big deal, but it is. The highest you ever see is 45%, which was today in Mississippi and Alabama.

So…be prepared for anything tomorrow. Again, the most likely issues will be winds causing issues with trees and power lines, and some hail. But know where you’re going to go in case of a tornado warning. Check the Severe Weather Safety Rules page for more information.

A friend of mine in Alabama has taken the week to encourage people to go get a helmet to put in your safe place, and people have responded! One of his reporters went to a sporting goods store looking for bicycle helmets and there were none available. Fantastic news! That’s part of the reason why I’ve been talking about weather radios since the time change on Sunday. It’s better to be overprepared than underprepared for something like this. Better to hang up the helmet and go on with your day than to have something hit that could hurt if you don’t have one.

I’ve mentioned on Twitter a few times the need for folks to get a weather radio, and that is a big deal. Also, make sure you get the WEA alerts turned on whether you have an iPhone or an Android device. I only have an iPhone, so I can tell you how to do that! Go to Settings, then Notifications. Scroll all the way to the bottom (might take a while) and turn everything under “Government Alerts” on. That way your phone will get the warnings and wake you up, too!

Then, know where you are. Here’s a map of our area, based on where 98% of our listeners to WHCB are located. Can you find yourself? If not, google it! There are a few towns on that map, but obviously not all of them are, so you might need to look it up. That way if your county is called, you know where you are. It’s always good to know once county in each direction from you, too, so you can tell if the storm is headed your way.

Next, determine where you need to be. Main thing is, go to a small room on the ground floor or the building you’re in, with as many walls between you and outside as possible. That’s something you can do right now in your home, and think about your work or school…where would you go? Think about it now and type it in the notes in your phone, or write a note and keep it in your pocket tomorrow, just in case. That way, if you’re in a warning, you know instantly where to go and what to put on to be safe!

For us, tomorrow is not a red letter day for massive amounts of tornadoes, like what happened on April 27 and 28, 2011. But it only takes one tornado coming down your street to make March 18th your April 27th. So it’s best to be prepared, on the rare occasion that the worst of things happens.

After that, things calm down a lot for the next little while. It looks like after the storms are gone tomorrow, rain moves out Friday morning. We then dry out and calm down for the weekend all the way through Tuesday.

Thanks to Cody from 96.3 The Possum for filling in for me on weather this week. I’ll be on the air tomorrow if there are storms that require our friends at the National Weather Service office in Morristown to issue tornado warnings. Hopefully we’ll be able to stick with him until I return on Monday. Stay safe!