MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Last April was the most active tornado month on record. There were 360 fatalities in April 2011 in the U.S. The April 25-28 tornado outbreak alone is responsible for more than 300 of those deaths.
For the first time ever, FEMA has teamed up with the NOAA, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, for a nationwide severe weather preparedness week. The message of preparedness continues even as we remember the deadly anniversary.
2011 was the fourth deadliest tornado year on record and packed the greatest number of multi-billion dollar weather disasters in our nation's history. Meteorologists across the U.S. are reminding everyone to never stop preparing.
First, you should know the risk. Severe weather happens all across the country at different times of the year. In the Mid-South, the spring and fall are the most active time periods for severe weather, but there isn't a month when our region is completely out of the risk for severe weather.
There are 118 tornado sirens in Shelby County, but you shouldn't rely only on them to warn you about a tornado. They are to alert people outdoors that severe weather is approaching and to seek shelter. Everyone in the Mid-South should have a NOAA weather radio, have an emergency kit, and have a plan of action for when severe weather strikes.
Meteorologist Jim Belles says, "In violent tornadoes, being in a storm shelter is necessary and we saw that last year in tornadoes that occurred in Alabama and Mississippi."
Social media is playing a big part in communicating severe threats. Belles also suggests having a phone tree in place. If you learn of a tornado warning, call others and have them continue calling and alerting family and friends.
"People receive a lot of warnings from family members calling each other," says Belles.
One of the main campaign points during this Severe Weather Preparedness Week is "Be a force of nature". Sharing information about severe weather can make the community as a whole more prepared.