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Be prepared for bad weather, even during colder months

Springtime is often thought of the season of severe weather as warm fronts coming up from the Gulf of Mexico collide with the cooler air left over from winter as spring makes its way into north Mississippi.

While those spring storms can and often do produce severe storms with hail and even tornadoes, this time of year can just be as deadly as the cold fronts come down from Canada ushering in winter to the area.

“When those two fronts collide, it causes unstable air masses, which can produce severe storms and tornadoes,” said Oxford Emergency Management Coordinator Jimmy Allgood.

Gov. Phil Bryant has declared this week as Fall Severe Weather Preparedness Week in Mississippi.

“Mississippi leads our nation in tornado-related fatalities,” said Lee Smithson, director of the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency.

A test tornado warning will be issued on the NOAA weather radios at 9:15 a.m. on Wednesday. Schools, government agencies,and businesses are asked to participate in the drill.

“Local businesses and residents are recommended take part in the drill,” Allgood said.

History of storms

Mississippi has been hit by 772 tornadoes in the months of November, December, January and February since 1950, according to the National Weather Service.

On December 23, 2015, tornadoes killed 11 people and left 56 injured throughout Bolivar, Coahoma, Quitman, Panola, Tate, Marshall, Benton and Tippah counties.

While people are busy getting ready for the coming holiday season, their minds may be more on turkeys and Christmas shopping.

“It’s just as important to be severe-weather-ready during the fall as it is in the spring,” Allgood said. “We generally get really strong cold fronts in weeks before and after Thanksgiving.”

Allgood suggests families have their emergency plans in place and make sure their emergency kits are competed with enough water, nonperishable food, medications and first-aid supplies.

If you don’t own a weather radio, Allgood suggests setting up weather warning apps on cell phones or via emails, through Red Code or the National Weather Service.

“However, I still recommend having a weather radio as well,” he said.

Learning weather-related terms is also important and knowing the difference between watches and warnings.

“A tornado watch means conditions are favorable for a tornado while a tornado warning means either radar has spotted rotation or weather watchers have spotted a funnel cloud,” he said.

In the event of a severe weather disaster, Smithson said, “One, get off the roads, two, get out of mobile homes, three, get to a safe place.”

Daily focus (Can be a sidebar or subhead)

MEMA and the NWS will focus on specific types of severe weather each day of the week on their social media and websites. The topics include:

Today: Alerts and Warnings. There are numerous ways to receive weather alerts from your cellphones to weather radios, to mass notification systems.

Tuesday: Severe Thunderstorms. Lightning, large hail, and damaging winds from severe storms are just as dangerous as tornadoes.

Wednesday: Tornado Safety. A statewide tornado drill will be conducted at 9:15 a.m.

Thursday: Flooding and Flash Flooding. Flooding is the number one cause of weather-related deaths behind heat. Remember – Turn Around, Don’t Drown.

Friday: Winter Weather. Surprisingly, these winter events can affect the Magnolia State before winter officially begins in late December.