The year 2011 was record-setting for severe weather across the United States.
Tragically, 550 people were killed by tornadoes, with 32 of those deaths occurring in Tennessee. The tornado death toll stands at 63 so far this year, with three of those deaths in the state.
Amazingly, this active weather pattern has helped spawn more than 15 tornadoes within 50 miles of Obion County just in the last five years, according to National Weather Service records. Traditionally, West Tennessee sees more tornadoes per year than any other part of the state.
“Despite better warnings than ever before, too many people are being killed by tornadoes. Joplin, Mo., and Tuscaloosa, Ala., — two cities hit by large tornadoes last year — had high numbers of deaths despite up to 20 minutes warning. Something has to change,” says Nashville television meteorologist Charlie Neese.
Neese has partnered with Union City Electric System and Union City Second Baptist Church to present TornadoSafe, a live, multimedia tornado safety program, on May 16 at 6 p.m. This presentation is open to everyone in Union City and the surrounding area.
“We have another month to go in our tornado season across West Tennessee and everyone needs to be prepared. People are dying from tornadoes because they don’t hear the warnings, they ignore them, they don’t know what to do or they don’t have a safe place to go. I address all of these issues in the TornadoSafe program,” says Neese.
Neese, a current on-air meteorologist for the CBS affiliate in Nashville, is a two-time Emmy award winner for his live severe weather coverage and for his severe weather safety news series. He has studied several tornado damage paths, including ones from the record Alabama outbreak last April, in an effort to fully understand how buildings are affected by the extreme wind forces experienced during tornadoes. Neese says he’s on a mission to share the lessons he’s learned through the years about tornado safety.
“When I’m tracking storms on radar and I see one that has the capability of producing a tornado, I always think to myself, ‘Do the people underneath this storm know what to do?’ That’s my motivation behind TornadoSafe — Once you hear the warning, do you know exactly what to do? In the program, I talk about some things most people probably have never considered when formulating their safety plan.”
TornadoSafe presented by Union City Electric System is being offered for free to anyone wishing to attend. For more information, call Union City Second Baptist Church at 885-5223 or visit Neese’s website at www.CharlieNeese.com.
Published in The Messenger 5.04.12