There’s no way to predict when a tornado might run a rampage through somebody’s neighborhood.
Experts say, however, there are certain times of the year to be especially on-guard.
March through May is considered peak time for storms that can produce tornadoes in the southeastern United States.
According to Billy Thurmond, director of Dawson County Emergency Services, the best defense against disastrous spring weather is preparation.
“The biggest mistake people make is that they don’t have a plan together,” said Thurmond on March 26.
According to the Georgia Emergency Management Agency, the plan should involve choosing a location in one’s home or business to meet up, should a tornado warning be issued.
Ideal gathering places in a building include a basement, center hallway, bathroom or closet on the lowest floor. It is also recommended that the space not be cluttered with items.
Thurmond also recommended residents look into getting a safety kit for such disasters.
“After disaster strikes, it’s hard to gather up the supplies you need, especially if your home has been hit,” Thurmond said.
According to GEMA, a tornado safety kit includes “first aid materials and essential medications; a battery-powered radio, flashlight and extra batteries; canned food and manual can opener; bottled water; and sturdy shoes and work gloves.”
Environmental clues that may alert residents to approaching storms include a dark, often greenish sky, wall clouds and large hail. A loud roar, similar to the sound of a freight train signals a tornado’s approach.
A weather radio is one of the best ways to be watchful of changing conditions, Thurmond said.
“We encourage people to get a radio, so they can follow along,” he said. “The radio does a good job of keeping you informed, but if you don’t have one of them ... if you’ve got power, you need to be watching the weather on TV.”
Since 1950, eight tornadoes have touched down in Dawson County, according to the National Weather Service.
Neighborhing Hall County has 27 recorded touchdowns; Cherokee County has 21.
“We’ve actually been pretty lucky over the years,” Thurmond said. “We’ve had some really bad ones, but nothing like some of the other counties have seen.”
Added Thurmond: “Tornadoes can hit any time ... people need to be ready.”