LIMA — With 49 tornadoes touching down in Ohio last year, it’s as important as ever to be ready for the powerful storms.
Spring Severe Weather Awareness Week in Ohio runs Sunday through Saturday.
Ohio had 49 tornadoes in 2019, with most of them occurring May 27 and 28, Memorial Day weekend. During that day, 21 tornadoes touched down in 10 Ohio counties, including in Auglaize and Mercer Counties.
Usually this week, there’s a statewide tornado drill, but that was canceled due to the coronavirus.
It’s always a good idea for people to review their safety plans during the week, officials agreed.
“What we’d like to tell folks is to start preparing for our spring and summer storm season,” said Tom Berger, Allen County Emergency Management Agency director. “Make sure you understand what the different warnings mean from the National Weather Service. A watch means that conditions are right for severe weather. A warning means that the weather is upon us. So knowing what those mean and then knowing what your plan is for your home or your businesses — know where those safe spots are that are in your home.”
Taking shelter in case of a tornado warning could mean all the difference in surviving a tornado.
“What we like to advise: As many walls as possible between you and the outside is the best spot unless you have a basement. Basements are always No. 1, get to the lowest level in your property,” Berger said.
Technology to notify you in case of a tornado warning goes beyond having a weather radio.
“We have Alert Allen County. Folks can sign up on allen-ema.com and click on the Alert Allen County tab and allow for those warnings to be sent directly to your mobile phone or landline,” Berger said. “Obviously, our traditional media as well, and social media. They’re good. They’re good spots, but the weather radios and Alert Allen County are 1-A and 1-B,” Berger said.
Van Wert County, to the west of Allen County, has a strong network of storm spotters that help confirm what National Weather Service radar is seeing. Since 1990, Van Wert County has seen 32 tornadoes, the most of any Ohio county during that timeframe.
“We have a very good storm spotter program with all of our law enforcement, fire departments and amateur radio groups and we’ve got people from the public that spot from home also,” said Rick McCoy, Emergency Management Agency director from Van Wert County. “We’re sort of the eyes to the sky when things are coming in from the Hoosier State and try to get that information out not only to our community but those to the south, north and east of us.”
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.