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Tornado season has stormy start
Thunderstorms make their way across the state
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Tornado tips


  • Pack an emergency kit with enough food, water and supplies to take care of you and your family for at least 72 hours after an emergency.
  • Make an emergency plan so your family will know what to do. Designate a meeting place and know how you will get in touch with each other if you are separated. Talk to your family about what to do in different situations.

During a tornado

  • If you are in a building when a tornado strikes, go to the lowest level and try to put as many walls as possible between you and the outside. Get under a table and cover your head and neck with your hands.
  • If you are in a mobile home or vehicle, get out and go to the nearest sturdy building or shelter.
  • If you are outside, lie flat in a nearby ditch, covering your head with your hands. Watch out for flying debris.


Tornado watch: Tornadoes are possible; watch the sky and stay tuned to media outlets for information.

Tornado warning: Take shelter immediately; a tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar.


In a fitting start to Georgia's official tornado season, the National Weather Service in Peachtree City issued severed weather warnings with the chance of tornadoes Wednesday night and into this morning.

The season begins in March and typically lasts through the spring.

"We're getting more moisture and more heating. Overall conditions are more favorable in the springtime," said Jessica Fieux, meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

Tornadoes typically form during supercell thunderstorms when cool and warm air mix.

The storms that caused several deadly tornadoes in the Midwest on Wednesday morning are part of a larger storm system that includes the severe weather in northern Georgia, state climatologist Bill Murphey said.

"It's part of the same storm system but the main pressure center is still up further north," Murphey said.

Murphey said he expects to see most of the impact in the Tennessee Valley area.

Storms from a separate cold front are expected to reach north Georgia early Saturday morning.

While a tornado can form any time during the year, most of Georgia's tornadoes form during March, April and May.

"It's possible to get severe weather events in the Southeast that time of year. In this pattern we're in, we're in a highly active or higher progressive pattern," Murphey said.

It is still too soon to tell if this spring will bring more

tornadoes than usual. But there was a higher-than-normal number of tornadoes in the state in 2011.

Murphey said the warmer-than-average temperatures of this winter could have boosted earlier severe weather systems in December and January and those coming up.

"However, it is important to note that many other ingredients are needed to phase together in order to have an outbreak of the magnitude, with strong, violent long-tracked tornadoes that we had last April," Murphey said.

If severe weather is expected there are several things that can be done to prepare.

David Kimbrell, Gainesville fire chief and emergency management director, said the middle of a storm isn't the time to call 911 asking what to do.

"We like to encourage people to do things now. Don't wait until it's too late. Now is the time to prepare," Kimbrell said.

He suggests people get the things they will need to take care of themselves for at least 48 to 72 hours after an emergency. That is how long it could take to get state and federal resources to a disaster area.

Kimbrell said emergency personnel would be on scene immediately to handle issues of life and safety.

Gainesville, Oakwood and other areas in Hall County are equipped with sirens that will sound during a tornado warning. The warning system as well as advancements in forecasting help make preparing for a tornado much easier today than in the past.

Kimbrell said he encourages people to visit the Fire Department website and learn about measures to prepare for an emergency.

"Today is the time to prepare for something that could happen today or tomorrow," Kimbrell said.