Friday’s tornado in Franklin County brought it home to some people that warnings to take cover should be heeded. Just ask Delores Anderson. Seeking shelter in the basement of her Windy Ridge Road home, as advised by tornado warnings, did exactly what it was supposed to: kept her alive.
“I am thankful to be alive,” Anderson said. “When they say to go to basement, please do it.”
The storm could have been much worse. Not just for the Anderson family but for all in the path of the storm. With only two minor injuries reported, it seems most people in the path of the tornado sought shelter and stayed safe. Following the reports of damage, public safety crews were out immediately looking to help anyone in need.
Tornado season is the peak period for historical tornado reports in an area. There is a general northward shift in “tornado season” in the U. S. from late winter through mid-summer, according to the Storm Prediction Center at The National Weather Service. The peak period for tornadoes in the Southern plains, for example, is May through early June. Tornadoes can happen any time of year in Virginia
The last tornado to strike Franklin County occurred in Syndorsville on May 8, 2008. A EF-1 tornado with winds 86 mph to 95 mph moved out of Henry County at 8 p.m. and continued another half mile into Franklin County before lifting two minutes later. The maximum width was 75 yards. Numerous trees were downed with two homes damaged. The tornado lifted at state routes 618 and 632.
Statewide last year only one death occurred as the result of a tornado.
The best thing a person can do is to be prepared. Turn on local radio, TV or have a weather radio to stay alert for warnings and know where the safe areas are to take shelter. Every second counts. Avoid windows and take shelter in the lowest part of the building or in a small center room like a bathroom or interior hallway.
A list of frequently asked questions about tornadoes by Rodger Edwards of the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center, describes in detail various safe places along with other information and tips. The “Online Tornado FAQ” can be found at www.spc.noaa.gov/faq/tornado/. Questions range from safety tips to in-depth information on what a tornado is and dispelling myths such as “Is it right to open windows to equalize pressure?” The answer, according to Edwards, is no. “Opening the windows is absolutely useless, a waste of precious time and can be very dangerous.”
A Franklin County program called Code Red can help people stay informed of any emergency situations or critical alerts. Residents can sign up for Code Red by visiting www.franklincountyva.gov and finding CodeRed on the right-hand side of the screen. Residents can receive text messages and email alerts. Stay informed so you can be prepared.
Late winter through mid-summer is the peak time for tornadic activity. Get educated and be prepared.