Public Information Statement
Issued by NWS Raleigh/Durham, NC

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NOUS42 KRAH 021106
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PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE RALEIGH NC
605 AM EST MON MAR 2 2015

SEVERE WEATHER PREPAREDNESS WEEK IN NORTH CAROLINA IS MARCH 1-7,
2015. TODAYS TOPIC IS SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS AND TORNADOES.

A THUNDERSTORM IS A LOCAL STORM THAT PRODUCES LIGHTNING AND THUNDER.
THUNDERSTORMS ARE OFTEN ACCOMPANIED BY SHOWERY RAIN AND GUSTY WINDS,
AND MAY ALSO BRING HAIL OR SNOW. THUNDERSTORMS OCCUR MOST FREQUENTLY
DURING THE SPRING AND SUMMER, BUT THEY ARE ALSO POSSIBLE IN THE FALL
AND WINTER.  NORTH CAROLINA EXPERIENCES ABOUT 40 TO 50 THUNDERSTORM
DAYS PER YEAR.  ABOUT 10 PERCENT OF THUNDERSTORMS ARE CLASSIFIED AS
SEVERE  ONE THAT PRODUCES HAIL AT LEAST AN INCH IN DIAMETER, HAS
WINDS OF 58 MILES PER HOUR OR STRONGER, OR PRODUCES A TORNADO.

TORNADOES ARE NATURES MOST VIOLENT STORMS. SPAWNED FROM POWERFUL
THUNDERSTORMS, TORNADOES CAN CAUSE FATALITIES AND DEVASTATE A
NEIGHBORHOOD IN SECONDS. A TORNADO APPEARS AS A ROTATING, FUNNEL-
SHAPED CLOUD THAT EXTENDS FROM A THUNDERSTORM TO THE GROUND WITH
WHIRLING WINDS THAT CAN REACH 300 MILES PER HOUR. DAMAGE PATHS CAN
BE IN EXCESS OF ONE MILE WIDE AND 50 MILES LONG.  SOME TORNADOES ARE
CLEARLY VISIBLE, WHILE RAIN OR NEARBY LOW-HANGING CLOUDS OBSCURE
OTHERS. SOMETIMES, TORNADOES DEVELOP SO RAPIDLY THAT LITTLE, IF ANY,
ADVANCE WARNING IS POSSIBLE.

THE FOLLOWING ARE SOME ADDITIONAL SEVERE STORM FACTS FOR NORTH
CAROLINA:

NORTH CAROLINA AVERAGES 26 TORNADOES, 3 TORNADO FATALITIES, AND 39
TORNADO INJURIES EACH YEAR.

MOST TORNADOES AND TORNADO-RELATED CASUALTIES OCCUR DURING
METEOROLOGICAL SPRING (MARCH TO MAY), WITH A PEAK IN APRIL,
PARTICULARLY AMONG STRONG AND VIOLENT TORNADOES. THERE IS ALSO A
SECONDARY PEAK IN TORNADO FREQUENCY IN NOVEMBER.

TORNADOES OCCUR MOST FREQUENTLY IN THE LATE AFTERNOON AND EARLY
EVENING HOURS; HOWEVER, MANY KILLER TORNADOES OCCUR DURING THE
OVERNIGHT HOURS WHEN TORNADOES ARE DIFFICULT TO SEE AND PEOPLE ARE
ASLEEP.

THERE HAS BEEN UPWARD TREND IN THE REPORTS OF WEAK TORNADOES
SINCE THE MIDDLE OF THE 20TH CENTURY. THIS IS LIKELY DUE TO
IMPROVEMENTS IN RADAR TECHNOLOGY, COMMUNICATION, STORM SURVEYS, AND
STORM SPOTTER TRAINING, AS WELL AS AN EXPANDING POPULATION,
INFRASTRUCTURE, AND SPOTTER NETWORK.

THIRTY CONFIRMED TORNADOES OCCURRED IN NORTH CAROLINA ON APRIL 16,
2011, THE GREATEST ONE-DAY TOTAL FOR NORTH CAROLINA ON RECORD.  ON
THAT DAY, 24 INDIVIDUALS LOST THEIR LIVES IN NORTH CAROLINA, AND
THERE WERE OVER 300 INJURIES REPORTED IN CENTRAL NORTH CAROLINA
ALONE.

SEVERE GUSTS OF WIND FROM A THUNDERSTORM, CALLED DOWNBURSTS OR
STRAIGHT LINE WINDS, ARE A SERIOUS DANGER AND CAN RESULT IN INJURIES
AND FATALITIES.  DAMAGE FROM STRAIGHT LINE WINDS CAN LOOK LIKE AND
BE JUST AS BAD AS TORNADO DAMAGE.  IN FACT, DURING THE PAST 5 YEARS,
THERE HAVE BEEN 16 FATALITIES AND OVER 70 INJURIES IN NORTH CAROLINA
DUE TO STRAIGHT LINE THUNDERSTORM WINDS.

WHILE MOST OF THE HAIL THAT FALLS IN THE STATE IS TYPICALLY THE SIZE
OF A QUARTER OR SMALLER, IN THE PAST 5 YEARS, HAIL THE SIZE OF GOLF
BALLS OR LARGER HAS OCCURRED OVER 200 TIMES.  DURING THIS SAME TIME,
BASEBALL-SIZE HAIL HAS OCCURRED 8 TIMES.

WHEN ATMOSPHERIC CONDITIONS ARE CONDUCIVE FOR THE FORMATION OF
TORNADOES, THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE WILL ISSUE A TORNADO WATCH.
A TORNADO WATCH MEANS THAT TORNADOES ARE POSSIBLE. DURING TORNADO
WATCHES, YOU SHOULD REMAIN ALERT FOR APPROACHING STORMS, WATCH THE
SKY, AND STAY TUNED TO NOAA WEATHER RADIO, COMMERCIAL RADIO OR
TELEVISION FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION.  A TORNADO WARNING MEANS THAT
A TORNADO HAS BEEN SIGHTED OR INDICATED BY WEATHER RADAR.  WHEN A
TORNADO WARNING IS ISSUED FOR YOUR AREA, YOU SHOULD TAKE SHELTER
IMMEDIATELY.

BE SURE TO TAKE SOME TIME THIS WEEK TO LEARN MORE ABOUT SEVERE
WEATHER SAFETY.  LEARNING AND PRACTICING SEVERE WEATHER SAFETY WHEN
THE WEATHER IS GOOD WILL ALLOW YOU TO REACT MORE QUICKLY WHEN THE
WEATHER TURNS BAD.   YOU CAN LEARN MORE ABOUT SEVERE WEATHER SAFETY
BY VISITING THE NORTH CAROLINA DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY
PREPAREDNESS WEBSITE AT READYNC.ORG.  THIS WEB PAGE FEATURES AN
ABUNDANCE OF INFORMATION, AND LINKS TO A FREE CELL PHONE APP, THAT
WILL HELP YOU PLAN AND PREPARE FOR THE SEVERE WEATHER SEASON.  ONCE
AGAIN, THATS READYNC.ORG.


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