Severe Weather Preparedness Week kicks off in Georgia

Published: Feb. 6, 2023 at 2:41 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 6, 2023 at 4:29 PM EST
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TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. (WTOC) - Monday is day one of Georgia Severe Weather Preparedness Week. This week serves as a reminder for people to review their emergency procedures and prepare for weather-related hazards.

Spring is typically when the threat of tornadoes and severe thunderstorms, that bring hail and lightning, greatly increases.

“One minute you got clear blue skies, the next minute you got heavy rain, thunder and lightning,” said Tybee Island Fire Chief Jeremy Kendrick.

Monday’s focus is family preparedness. Tybee Island Fire Chief Jeremy Kendrick says this includes things like knowing where you’d go if you have to evacuate your home or if you have to shelter in place and making sure your insurance policy is readily available.

“Flashlights handy if you lose power. Of course, have your cellphone charged up in case you need to make phone calls especially if your house gets hit by lightning and you lose power you won’t be able to call 911. Have a first-aid kit available. These are all essential things that you need to have just like in a hurricane, but these storms come a lot quicker.”

Kendrick says people who live in the coastal community usually have these things already because of hurricane season, but it’s a good time to re-stock.

Day two, Tuesday, is thunderstorm safety. According to the National Weather Service south Georgia has an average of 60 thunderstorm days each year and that a severe thunderstorm doesn’t just produce strong winds, but hail too.

“If we have lots of lightning in the area go inside. Parts of the state have seen golf ball-size hail, dime-sized hail and it all hurts the same. It damages your cars. If you’re driving try to pull under a bridge somewhere.”

On Wednesday, the focus is on tornadoes and it’s something the Coastal Empire is all too familiar with after April’s deadly tornado in Bryan County. This is a time to establish a safe place in your home you can go to if you’re at risk.

Kendrick says the fire department will come to any home on Tybee if you have questions or concerns.

“If you want us to make sure your home is safe we can do that. We can come in and do a little home-safety inspection for them to make sure they the necessities. We’re very open to the public in giving them whatever they need if they have questions.”

Thursday will focus on lightning safety. This is a time to get familiar with the 30/30 rule and to check your smoke detectors.

And Friday is for flood safety. The NWS says flooding is the number one cause of death associated with thunderstorms. Remember the golden rule: turn around, don’t drown.

Kendrick says Tybee is now a NOAA Weather-Ready Nation Ambassador. This means the city is working closely with NOAA to strengthen national resilience against extreme weather.

“We support and we explain everything that’s going on from the National Weather Service point, we put it out to the public. We report back to the NWS if we have any type of situations here that are weather-related.”

On Wednesday there will be a statewide tornado drill at 9 a.m. This is a great time for people to practice their safety plan and make sure their communications systems are working as they should.