STATEMENT FROM NWS REGARDING COVID-19… Severe weather is in the forecast for this afternoon and this evening across the northern half of Alabama. Let me stress that no severe weather issues are expected across the southern half of Alabama or northwest Florida. If you know someone in north Alabama or Tennessee, you may tag them in the comments so they’ll see this critical information. IF we have a severe weather situation over the next few weeks locally, this same info will quickly become pertinent to our local area!
TORNADO WARNINGS & COVID-19 GUIDANCE… The guidance for the ongoing COVID-19 situation can sometimes conflict with the guidance generally given on what to do if a tornado warning is issued for your location. During a tornado warning, you generally want to move to the lowest floor of a site-built structure, away from windows and doors, putting as many walls as possible between you and the outside world. Mobile/manufactured homes and vehicles are generally the worst place to be during tornado warnings. For COVID-19/coronavirus, the guidance generally is to socially distance yourself, stay home, and avoid as much close interaction with people as possible. The National Weather Service offices in Mobile, Birmingham, Huntsville, and Tallahassee issue all the warnings for various Alabama and northwest Florida counties. The following is a joint statement from the 4 NWS offices dispatched to the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) concerning community storm shelters. Directly quoting NWS/ADPH:
The decision to seek shelter in a community storm shelter is certainly made more difficult by the consideration for COVID-19, and each individual will need to make an educated decision on where and when to shelter from a tornado.
At this time, the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) is recommending that your first priority should be to protect yourself from a potential tornado. If a warning is issued for your area, you are more likely to be affected by the tornado than the virus.
However, the decisions to open any community shelters are done at the local or county level. Before you make a decision to go to a community shelter, you should check with your community shelter managers to ensure they are open, and if there are any local COVID-19 considerations. Certainly, wherever you choose to shelter from a tornado, you should use as many precautions as possible to inhibit the spread of COVID-19 as best as you can. If you rely on public community shelters, now may be the time to explore other options that might keep you safer from severe weather and possibly limit your exposure to COVID-19.
The best way to prepare for this potential scenario is to keep up with the latest weather forecast as well as the latest recommendations regarding COVID-19 from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the ADPH, and local authorities.
CHECK WITH LOCAL AUTHORITIES FIRST before heading to a community shelter! The WORST case scenario would be showing up and having a shelter not open. Some extra planning is certainly advised in this situation.