We are in the heart of tornado season. Our neighbors in Guilford County know that all too well after a twister packing 135 mph winds ripped through a four-mile section of eastern Greensboro on Sunday. Multiple counties was hammered by strong storms, and the National Weather Service put us under a tornado watch at one point.

 

In Greensboro, at least one person died in the storm, and several others were injured. Homes and businesses were completely destroyed or heavily damaged. Schools remained closed Tuesday, and three won’t reopen this year due to damage caused by the tornado, the Associated Press reported. Thousands still had no electricity Tuesday afternoon, according to Duke Energy’s website.

 

Many agencies, churches and businesses are offering help and collecting donations for tornado victims. To see a list and find out what you can do, go to the News & Record’s website at www.greensboro.com and read the articles about relief efforts.

 

Tornadoes can occur at any time of the year, but the peak season in North Carolina is March through May, according to North Carolina Emergency Management. They are the most violent of storms and can spawn with little or no warning, so it’s important to know the conditions in which they can form – during strong thunderstorms – and to heed warning signs such as large hail or a loud roaring sound. It’s also important to know that in weather terminology, a tornado watch means conditions are right for formation in the designated area. A tornado warning means one has been sighted in that area.

 

Perhaps the most important thing to know is what to do if you find yourself in the path of a tornado. The North Carolina Emergency Management Agency advises taking shelter on the lowest floor of a building, preferably a basement. If that’s not an option, find an enclosed hallway, stairwell, bathroom or closet. Stay away from windows. If you live in a mobile home, make a plan now to take shelter elsewhere. If you’re outside when a tornado strikes, try to find a sturdy shelter. If one isn’t available, find a ditch or low-lying area and lie on the ground, protecting your head. For more information about hurricanes, how to prepare for them and how to protect yourself if one strikes where you are, go to www.readync.org and look for the “Tornado” section under “Stay Informed.”

 

This is important. We may have dodged a bullet Sunday, but it’s only mid-April – the heart of tornado season – and we can’t let down our guard.

- GateHouse Media