COLUMBIA, S.C. —Gov. Henry McMaster has proclaimed March 5-11 as South Carolina Severe Weather and Flood Safety Week for 2017, coming just five months after Hurricane Matthew hit the state.
The highlight of the week is the annual statewide tornado drill, which will take place Wednesday, March 8th, at 9 a.m. During the drill, the National Weather Service will send out a real-event code of TOR, which will activate tone-alert weather radios that are set to receive tornado warnings. Those radios will broadcast the exercise message. The state got a waiver from the FCC to use the Tornado Warning product on NOAA tone-alert radios.
Public schools, state and local Emergency Management, and South Carolina Broadcasters Association, and others will participate in the drill.
John Quagliariello, meteorologist with the National Weather Service, says, “In South Carolina, there’s increased threat for severe weather in the spring, especially for tornadoes. In 2016 alone, there were over 525 damaging wind events, which injured at least six people; 67 reports of large hail; and five confirmed tornadoes in South Carolina, with 11 people injured due to lightning.”
State Emergency Management Director Kim Stenson says last year’s hurricane and the historic flooding that hit the state in October 2015 got the attention of a lot of people who may not have experienced severe weather before. He says the state’s disaster plans worked well during those events, but there is still a problem with the state’s preparedness: not enough people who’ve developed emergency action plans for their families.
“It takes a little bit of effort to put together a ‘go’ kit, make sure you’ve got 72 hours worth of supplies, make sure your medications are kept up to date, have a plan for your pets, have a family reunification plan. And, quite frankly, a lot of people just don’t do that,” he says.
You can find detailed help on exactly how to do that on the Emergency Management Division’s website, scemd.org.