Awareness important during severe weather

Published 11:35 am Monday, April 8, 2024

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Harlan County, along with most of the state, experienced severe storms on April 2 which brought heavy rainfall, high winds, and tornado activity to Kentucky. While several areas in the state saw tornadoes touch down and cause damage, Harlan County did not see damaging tornado activity, however, a tornado warning was in effect in the county for several hours.

Harlan County Emergency Management Director David McGill verified no significant storm related damage occurred in Harlan County. He also provided some tips on what to do in case of severe weather.

According to McGill, everybody should have a plan to deal with all types of severe weather. He pointed out that while many people believe tornados are not possible in Harlan County, that assumption is incorrect.

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“Tornadoes can develop anywhere,” McGill said. “That’s something we always need to be prepared for. Another possibility is straight line winds.”

McGill explained straight line winds can pack just as devastating a punch as a tornado, with comparable windspeeds causing major damage.

“The fact of the matter is straight line winds can cause just as much damage, there’s just not a rotation happening,” McGill said. “The windspeeds can be the exact same.”

McGill mentioned it is important to keep the possibility of severe weather in mind.

“We always need to be weather aware,” McGill said. “Everyone should have a few different ways of receiving weather alerts.”

McGill noted ways to receive weather alerts include a weather radio, Harlan County’s mass alert telephone system, television, radio, and internet-based sources such as the Harlan County Emergency Management Facebook page and the National Weather Service website.

When a tornado warning is issued, it is important to act quickly.

“If we have a tornado warning, seek shelter in an interior room,” McGill said. “Have those places identified now, don’t wait until the warning comes. You need to know as early as possible where to go and how to get there.”

McGill said it is important to be under shelter as soon as possible when a tornado event begins. Do not wait. If caught outside or in a car when a tornado is sighted, seek shelter immediately. Care should be taken when choosing shelter.

“You never want to get inside a drainage ditch or under a bridge or anything like that,” McGill explained. “If you don’t have someplace sturdy to go, then you want to lay flat in an open ditch and cover your head.”

Those seeking additional information on hazardous weather preparation may wish to attend a Hazardous Weather Preparedness Class offered by the Harlan County Cooperative Extension Service. The class is provided by the National Weather Service and scheduled for Friday, April, 12, at the Harlan County Extension Depot located at 110 River Street in Harlan. For more information on the class, go to the Harlan County Extension Service Facebook page or call 606-573-4464.