A blast of cold in March. Nothing unusual. We’ve seen it before. But the more days that tick by in the month, the nearer we are to saying goodbye to Old Man Winter and hello to spring.
The transition can aptly be called “the mean season.” Some of the worst isolated damage from thunderstorms and tornadoes occurs during March, April and May. Already, March has been deadly, with devastating tornadoes taking lives in Alabama this past weekend.
During springtime months, the atmosphere is in transition from cold to warm. Air masses often times interact, resulting in turbulent weather conditions. Each year hundreds of communities and lives are shattered as a result of such weather disasters.
Amid the threat of severe weather, disaster officials often issue special warnings via the state emergency-response system. To ensure readiness in the spring and all year, the S.C. Emergency Management Division annually designates South Carolina Severe Weather and Flood Safety Week. This year’s observance, as proclaimed by Gov. Henry McMaster, begins Sunday.
For Palmetto State residents, recent years are proof that severe storms, tornadoes and flash floods are significant hazards in South Carolina: The 100-year flooding of 2015, Hurricane Matthew in 2016, Hurricane Irma in 2017, and Hurricanes Florence and Michael in 2018.
A highlight Severe Weather and Flood Safety Week will be the annual statewide tornado drill, which is conducted in coordination with the South Carolina Broadcasters Association. The state superintendent of education is encouraging schools statewide to participate.
South Carolina has received a waiver from the Federal Communications Commission to use the Tornado Warning product on NOAA tone-alert weather radio when the drill is conducted. During the drill, the National Weather Service will use a real-event code, TOR. The “TOR” code will activate tone-alert weather radios that are set to receive tornado warnings, and those radios will broadcast the exercise message.
The drill will be conducted Wednesday, March 13, at 9 a.m. Public schools, state and local Emergency Management, the South Carolina Broadcasters Association and others will participate in the annual event. The purpose of the drill is to test communication systems, safety procedures and mitigation processes.
No emergency plan is any better than its implementation. That’s why, on Wednesday, ahead of the “mean season,” state emergency personnel will put the system to a test. Citizens are advised to take notice and be informed, both of the dangers and what to do in an emergency.