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Perfect timing for tornado drill

Kimberly Jordan kjordan@lebanondemocrat.com • Dec 17, 2015 at 6:00 PM

Wilson Emergency Management Agency employees took part in the statewide tornado drill Wednesday, and with the threat of severe weather, the drill could prove useful.

WEMA Director Joey Cooper and a small team participated in the drill, which included monitoring NOAA weather reports as well as observing data from area weather stations to determine threats.

"There is a team of four," Cooper said. "Two are monitoring the screens tracking the radar, one is writing down threats and sightings and the other monitors the NOAA and alerts schools of the need to execute tornado plans in the event a funnel is sighted."

And the team will likely put the exercises to good use with Thursday's predicted weather system.

The National Weather Service is calling for severe weather Thursday night, with straight-line winds and tornadoes possible.

The main threat of the system appears to be winds. Predictions are for 20-30 mph winds with gusts as high as 45 mph.

"Thursday night we are expecting a strong squall line to pass through with a good possibility of strong storms, of which a few could be severe," said WEMA Capt. Steve Spencer. "The main threat with this line will be strong straight-line winds, but the weather service said rotation could be possible with some of the cells in the line. A gusty south wind will affect our weather during the day Thursday ahead of the front. Friday into next week the cooler temperatures return with seasonable temperatures in the forecast next week."

According to the National Weather Service, the storm will likely enter Middle Tennessee between 4 and 6 p.m. and could bring between 1 and 1.5 inches of rain.

The Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH) offers the following tips for residents to stay safe during the severe weather: 

• Stay inside a sturdy building and stay tuned to a battery-operated radio for weather information;

• If you are caught outdoors, avoid natural lightning rods such as tall, isolated trees in an open area or the top of a hill and metal objects such as wire fences, golf clubs and metal tools;

• Bring outdoor items in. If you have furniture and other outdoor equipment on your patio or deck, bring them inside when strong weather threatens;

• Anticipate a possible power outage. If you have space in your refrigerator or freezer, consider filling plastic containers with water, leaving about an inch of space inside each one (remember, water expands as it freezes so it is important to leave room in the container for the expanded water). Place the containers in the refrigerator and freezer to help keep food cold if the power goes out;

• Keep a supply of flashlights, batteries and a battery-powered radio on hand. Do not use candles as they pose a fire hazard.

For more home and family safety tips visit www.protect-your-home.org or www.flash.org.

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