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Officials urge residents to prepare for tornado season
1 funnel cloud reported during Mondays storm
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Prepare yourself for a tornado

  • Visit to create a preparation checklist and a ready kit of emergency supplies.
  • Know the terms that are used to identify tornado hazards. A tornado watch means a tornado is possible. A tornado warning means a tornado has been spotted in your area, and you need to take shelter immediately.
  • Determine in advance where you will take shelter during a tornado warning, such as a basement or interior room on the lowest floor.
  • If shelter is not available, lie flat in a ditch or other low-lying area. Do not take shelter under an overpass or bridge.
  • Prepare a ready kit of emergency supplies, including first aid supplies, flashlight, weather radio and a three-day supply of food and water.
  • After a tornado, try to help injured or trapped people. Check on others who may require special assistance, such as senior citizens, children and people with disabilities.

Tornado season is here, and Gainesville emergency officials say they're ready to tackle any threatening weather.

Georgia's official tornado season began Tuesday, and local officials got a test Monday when a severe storm blew through the area.

"It was busy, but we didn't have any major damage," said Hall County Fire Chief David Kimbrell, also director of Hall County's Emergency Management Agency. "A lot of trees went down, one on top of a house."

The National Weather Service issued a tornado watch for numerous Georgia counties Monday, and one funnel cloud was reported in the metro Atlanta area.

"Today is the time to prepare for these storms, not when the sirens go off or we're under a tornado warning," Kimbrell said Tuesday. "Then it's too late. Then it's time to react to your preparation."

Hall County emergency officials run siren tests each week and participated in Severe Weather Awareness Week in early February, Kimbrell said. All Hall County schools conducted tornado drills.

"We stay prepared all the time, and we can help any residents who need assistance," Kimbrell said. "We encourage everyone to prepare now with different preparation plans and ready kits on our website."

The Georgia Emergency Management Agency created the Ready Georgia campaign several years ago to raise awareness about preparing for storms. Georgia residents can create custom profiles for emergency supply checklists and family disaster plans on the campaign's website,

"We want to ensure that all residents are prepared for the violent nature of tornadoes," said Charley English, Georgia Emergency Management Agency director. "Tornadoes are a real threat in Georgia, no matter where in the state you live."

Gainesville sits on the edge of Tornado Alley, and the area has been hit by catastrophic storms throughout the years. A tornado in 1903 killed more than 100, another in 1936 killed more than 200 and one more recently in 1998 killed 12.

Storms also hit the region in 2005, 2008 and one hit Buford on Nov. 30, 2010, creating $5 million in damage.

"Tornadoes are most destructive when they touch ground, and normally a tornado will stay on the ground for no more than 20 minutes," said Sarah Lippman of the Ready Georgia campaign. "However, one tornado can touch ground several times in different areas, with severe wind speeds uprooting trees and structures and turning harmless objects into deadly missiles all in a matter of seconds."