Residents in the Midwest and Southern States Urged to Prepare
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Weather Service has announced that a major tornado outbreak is likely in the Central and Southern Plains today.
According to the Storm Prediction Center at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration the worst conditions are projected to hit late Saturday afternoon between Oklahoma City and Salina, Kan. These conditions could be life-threatening. Also, other areas could see severe storms with baseball-sized hail and winds of up to 70 mph. The warning includes parts of Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas.
“It’s vitally important to listen to NOAA Weather Radio and local news to monitor for severe weather updates and warnings and follow the direction provided by local officials,” says Craig Fugate, Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. “There are simple steps residents in these areas can take now to be prepared.”
FEMA, through its regional offices in Chicago, Ill., Denton, Texas and Kansas City, Mo., remains in constant contact with state emergency management officials in these states and stands ready to support impacted states if requested. Also, FEMA continues to coordinate closely with our federal partners at the National Weather Service, and are tracking ongoing weather threats.
Based on yesterday’s tornado touchdown in Norman, Okla., FEMA has proactively deployed an Incident Management Assistance Team to the Oklahoma City state emergency operations center, to support state response efforts, as needed. Additionally teams are currently on standby, ready to support other areas, if needed.
If you have severe weather in your area, keep in mind these safety tips:
· Everyone should get familiar with the terms used to identify a severe weather hazard and discuss with your family what to do if a watch or warning is issued. Terms used to describe weather hazards include the following:
o Watch: Meteorologists are monitoring an area or region for the formation of a specific type of threat (e.g. flooding, severe thunderstorms, or tornadoes).
o Tune in using a weather radio, commercial radio, or television for information. Continue to monitor your battery-powered radio or television for emergency information, and follow the direction provided by local officials. During crises, the NOAA Weather Radio system is used to broadcast timely and important information from the National Weather Service (the only authority on weather forecasting) and emergency personnel offering local situational updates. Learn more from the National Weather Service (www.weather.gov/nwr).
o Warning: Specific life and property threatening conditions are occurring and imminent. Take appropriate safety precautions.
· Mobile homes, even if tied down, offer little protection from tornadoes and should be abandoned. A mobile home can overturn very easily even if precautions have been taken to tie down the unit. Residents of mobile homes must plan in advance and identify safe shelter in a nearby building.
· If you are in a sturdy structure, such as a home, school or hospital, go to a pre-designated shelter area such as a safe room, basement, storm cellar, or the lowest building level. If there is no basement, go to the center of an interior room on the lowest level (closet, interior hallway) away from corners, windows, doors, and outside walls. Put as many walls as possible between you and the outside. Get under a sturdy table and use your arms to protect your head and neck. In a high-rise building, go to a small interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible.
· Put on sturdy shoes.
· Do not open windows.
· Never try to outrun a tornado in urban or congested areas in a car or truck. Instead, leave the vehicle immediately for safe shelter. Watch out for flying debris. Flying debris from tornadoes causes most fatalities and injuries.
· After a disaster, be aware of possible structural, electrical or gas-leak hazards in your home. Contact your local city or county building inspectors for information on structural safety codes and standards. They may also offer suggestions on finding a qualified contractor to do work for you.
o Do not touch downed power lines or objects in contact with downed lines. Report downed power lines and electrical hazards to the police and the utility company.
o If heavy rains are likely in your area, be aware that flash flooding can occur. If there is any possibility of a flash flood, move immediately to higher ground. Do not wait for instructions to move.
More information on tornado preparedness and flooding is available at www.ready.gov, www.listo.gov, and for other languages at www.ready.gov/translations.
Follow FEMA online at www.twitter.com/fema, www.facebook.com/fema, and www.youtube.com/fema. Also, follow Administrator Craig Fugate’s activities at www.twitter.com/craigatfema. The social media links provided are for reference only. FEMA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies or applications.
FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.