Next week will be Severe Weather Awareness Week

Published 12:59 pm Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley declared Feb. 19-24 as Severe Weather Awareness Week.

Governor Bentley was joined at a proclamation signing ceremony by leaders from the Alabama Emergency Management Agency, the National Weather Service, the Governor’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, and several broadcast meteorologists.

The goal of Severe Weather Awareness Week is to encourage members of the public to make their own personal preparations long before severe weather strikes.

“The key is readiness,” Bentley said. “When storms strike, it’s too late to prepare. Let’s prepare now.”

Bentley also spoke of ongoing efforts at the state level to help local communities become better prepared.

The governor mentioned recommendations from his Tornado Recovery Action Council, including support for additional community storm shelters.

“We need to build them and identify them to the public so people know exactly where to go,” Bentley said, adding that shelters can save lives in areas with high concentrations of people, such as apartment complexes.

Bentley also mentioned a potential sales tax holiday on certain items related to severe-weather preparedness. Efforts are ongoing to put such recommendations in place.

Alabama Emergency Management Agency Director Art Faulkner joined Bentley and discussed issues of planning and response.

“It takes every one of these people, from the National Weather Service, to the meteorologists, to the emergency managers who respond to the areas affected,” Faulkner said.

But he added that the bottom line is citizens must also prepare.

“If they do not have a plan of action, that can cause a loss of life,” Faulkner said. “So I would encourage everyone to be proactive.”

“Waiting for the storm to occur is not the time to prepare,” added Jim Stefkovich, Meteorologist in Charge of the National Weather Service’s Birmingham Office. “We want people to use Severe Weather Awareness Week to think ahead.”

Each day within Severe Weather Awareness Week will focus on a different threat.

•Monday of next week will focus on the threat of severe thunderstorms.

•Tuesday will focus on the dangers of lightning.

•Wednesday will highlight tornado preparedness.

•Thursday will focus on the threats of flooding/flash flooding.

•Friday will highlight the needs of NOAA Weather Radios in homes and other indoor spaces where people need warnings.