Pontiac, Michigan -- Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson has designated March 27 - April 2 as Severe Weather Awareness Week in Oakland County.
During this weeklong observance, special attention will be paid to heightening public awareness of the Oakland County Outdoor Warning System and promoting various steps residents should take when warning sirens are activated.
"Severe Weather Awareness Week is a good time for families, businesses and schools to develop their own severe weather plans," said Patterson. "The county's Homeland Security Division has many planning materials to help all residents and especially those with special needs to be prepared for an emergency."
Oakland County's Outdoor Warning sirens are tested the first Saturday of every month from March through November. A special test, however, will be conducted at 1:00 p.m. Wednesday, March 30th in recognition of Severe Weather Awareness Week.
According to the National Weather Service, the strongest tornado in Oakland County touched down on March 20, 1976 in West Bloomfield. This F4 (out of 5 on the Fujita scale) tornado resulted in 1 death and 55 injuries. It damaged or destroyed 91 homes, one mobile home, 23 businesses and 25 vehicles, or more than $5 million in destruction. It ranks as the costliest tornado in Oakland County.
Since 2008, there has been an average per year of 96.5 storm-based warnings issued and 221.5 severe weather events in southeast Michigan, according to data from the National Weather Service office in White Lake, Michigan.
A watch means conditions are right for severe weather and residents should remain alert for approaching storms. A warning means severe weather has been sighted or detected by weather radar. If a warning is issued and/or the sky becomes threatening, residents are advised to move to a place of safety. Some valuable tips to remember in case of a tornado include:
- In a home or building, move to a pre-designated shelter such as a basement
- If an underground shelter is not available, move to an interior room or hallway on the lowest floor and get under a sturdy piece of furniture
- Stay away from windows
- Get out of automobiles
- Do not try to outrun a tornado in your car; instead leave it immediately
- If caught outside or in a vehicle lie flat in a nearby ditch or depression
- Mobile homes, even if tied down, offer little protection from tornadoes and should be abandoned
For additional information on Severe Weather Awareness Week, or for help developing severe weather plans, visit the homepage of Oakland County Homeland Security Division at www.oakgov.com/homelandsecurity
or call 248-858-5300.
For media inquiries only, please contact Bill Mullan, Media and Communications Officer, at 248-858-1048.