ALERT: Be Ready for Severe Weather

Severe Weather Awareness Week in Tennessee

POSTED: 3:28 PM Feb 20 2014   UPDATED: 5:35 AM Feb 21 2014
StormTrack 5 Team

The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA), and National Weather Service (NWS), and the Storm Track 5 Weather Team are asking everyone to make planning and preparing for severe weather a priority during Tennessee Severe Weather Awareness Week, February 16 to 23, 2014.

“We’ve already experienced multiple rounds of severe winter weather in Tennessee and all indications are we may have an active spring,” said TEMA Director James Bassham.  “We can’t wait until the tornado is upon us to think about how we protect ourselves from it.  We have to prepare now.”

"Severe weather is most common during the Spring months of March, April, and May across Tennessee but it can occur any month of the year." said NWS Warning Coordination Meteorologist Tom Johnstone.  "It's important for all Tennesseans to pay attention to the weather, have multiple ways to receive severe weather warnings, and have a plan to get underground or to the interior of the lowest level of a well-made structure when warnings are issued."

See the latest Severe Weather Alerts here:

See the latest Storm Track 5 Forecast here:

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Tennessee’s Tornado History

Tornadoes are nature’s most violent and dangerous storms.  Tornadoes can appear without warning and be invisible until dust and debris are picked up or a funnel cloud appears.

This year commemorates the 40th anniversary of the worst tornado outbreak in U.S. history. 

According to the National Weather Service, on April 3 and April 4, 1974, 148 twisters touched down in 13 states, leaving 330 people dead and 5,848 injured. 

In Tennessee, 50 people died as 28 tornadoes blew through 19 counties in middle and east Tennessee. 

A little more than a year ago, Middle Tennessee recorded the largest January tornado outbreak in its history, when 22 touched down on Jan. 30, 2013.  This date also marks the second biggest outbreak of tornadoes for any month in Middle Tennessee history. 


Tornado Preparedness

First, familiarize yourself with the terms used to identify a tornado hazard:  a Tornado Watch indicates that conditions are right for a tornado to develop; a Tornado Warning indicates a tornado has developed or could develop within minutes.

Be sure to have a NOAA Weather Radio with batteries in case you lose power. Keep your cell phone charged and access the Storm Track 5 mobile app for the latest.

If at home, go to a basement or storm cellar, away from windows.  If neither is available, find shelter under a piece of sturdy furniture such as a work bench or heavy table and hold on to it. A room in the center of the house is usually safer than the outer rooms.

If at work or school, go to the basement or inside hallway at the lowest level. Avoid auditoriums, gymnasiums, cafeterias or large hallways.

If outdoors, get inside a building, or lie in a ditch or low-lying area. Avoid water-filled ditches. Use arms to protect head and neck and stay low to the ground.

Never try to outrun a tornado. If in a vehicle, get out immediately and take shelter in a nearby building, ditch or low-lying area between the vehicle and tornado.

If in a mobile home, get out and take shelter in a building with a strong foundation or lie in a ditch or low-lying area between the tornado and mobile home.

A copy of the Severe Weather Awareness Guide, from TEMA and NWS, is available at

The guide contains more severe weather preparedness information and includes a disaster supplies checklist.

For more information on Severe Weather Awareness Week and on preparing for severe weather, visit TEMA’s website at, or download TEMA’s ReadyTN smartphone application,