WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), through its regional offices in Atlanta, Chicago, Kansas City, Philadelphia and Denton, Texas, is monitoring a large-scale storm system moving across the western U.S. into the Great Plains which will potentially cause a multi-day severe weather outbreak this weekend and into early next week. Residents in potentially affected areas should take the time now to ensure they are prepared for severe weather.
FEMA is in close contact with the National Weather Service, which is forecasting the development of severe thunderstorms across the central and southern Great Plains this weekend and into the Mississippi Valley and mid-South early next week, with the potential for hail, damaging winds and tornadoes, as the system progresses eastward. Ahead of this storm, severe thunderstorms and tornadoes are possible today in parts of southern Virginia and North Carolina For a comprehensive forecast for your area, visit www.weather.gov.
Many mobile devices are capable of receiving free Wireless Emergency Alerts, which are sent by public safety officials such as the National Weather Service about imminent threats like severe weather. They look like a text message and show the type and time of the alert, any action you should take, and the agency issuing the alert.
When natural disasters like severe weather and tornadoes strike, the first responders are local emergency and public works personnel, volunteers, humanitarian organizations, and numerous private interest groups who provide emergency assistance required to protect the public's health and safety and to meet immediate human needs.
Severe Weather & Tornado Safety Tips
Maintain an emergency supply kit both at home and in the car to help prepare for power outages or impassable roads. Visit www.ready.gov or www.listo.gov to learn more about how to be better prepared and how to protect your family during emergencies. Find severe weather and tornado preparedness tips at http://www.ready.gov/severe-weather.
Follow the instructions of state and local officials, and listen to local radio or TV stations for updated disaster response and evacuation information. Residents can listen to NOAA Weather Radio and local news to monitor for severe weather updates and warnings. The National Weather Service is the source for tornado watches and warnings.
Become familiar with the terms used to identify severe weather and discuss with your family what to do if a watch or warning is issued. Terms used to describe tornado and other severe weather hazards include the following:
For a flash flood:
A flash flood watch: Flash flooding is possible. Be prepared to move to higher ground; monitor NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information.
A flash flood warning: A flash flood is occurring; seek higher ground on foot immediately.
For a severe thunderstorm:
A severe thunderstorm watch means that a severe thunderstorm with large hail and/or damaging winds is possible in your area.
A severe thunderstorm warning means that a severe thunderstorm with large hail and/or damaging winds is occurring or imminent, move indoors immediately.
For a tornado:
A tornado watch means a tornado is possible in your area.
A tornado warning means a tornado is either occurring or imminent, take shelter immediately.
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FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.