Tornadoes on that same day throughout the Southeast killed 316 people.
These tragic losses of human life and property point to the need for this week’s annual observance of Severe Weather Awareness Week. As part of the initiative, the National Weather Service in Morristown conducted tornado drills today. This includes local activities in Bradley County.
“We will be conducting tornado drills at all local schools today, and testing notification systems,” said Troy Spence, director of the Cleveland-Bradley County Emergency Management Agency.
Test messages from the NOAA Weather Radio transmitters will be broadcast giving a test warning to schools and those who have weather radios.
“A tornado is a violently rotating column of air extending from the base of a thunderstorm and in contact with the ground,” according to NWS standards describing a tornado. However, “whenever it is not in contact with the ground, it is called a ‘Funnel Cloud,’” which is still dangerous.
Typically, the peak time for tornadic activity in Bradley County and the surrounding area is March through May.
That was evident during the past year.
NWS officials have also tracked tornadoes in the Southeast Tennessee region in November and December.
Wind speeds inside a tornado can reach 318 mph, causing death and property damage.
Meteorologists rate the intensity of a tornado on the Enhanced Fujita or ‘EF’ Scale.
Six levels of intensity are recognized, EF-0 being the weakest and F-6 the strongest, according to NWS officials.
Tim Troutman of the NWS said tornadoes ranging from EF-0 through EF-4 struck Bradley County on April 27. He offered a number of safety tips which could save lives in the event of severe weather.
If caught in a thunderstorm capable of producing a tornado, stay alert.
- Be aware if a “Tornado Watch” is in effect.
- Know the difference between a “Tornado Watch” and a “Tornado Warning.”
- A “Watch” means tornado conditions are prime and a tornado may develop. A “Warning” means a tornado has been sighted or is indicated on weather radar. People in the path of the tornado should seek shelter immediately.
- Remember, a thunderstorm is capable of producing a tornado with little or no warning.
- The average tornado moves from southwest to northeast, but they have been known to travel in any direction. Land speed can vary from 30 mph to 70 mph.
Tornadoes can also remain stationary.
One very important thing to remember when threatening weather is present is to stay close to a news source or weather radio. Heed warnings and follow instructions.
Electronic and Social media such as Nixle.com and Facebook along with Ready TN have been established by state and local emergency managers.
All of the warning services are free.
Ready TN was produced by the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency. It is a free application for Android-based smart phone users and an i-Phone version is forthcoming.
Visit Nixle.com and sign up for alerts from CBCEMA at www.bradleyco.net link and follow their Facebook and Twitter postings.