Severe Storm Awareness Week highlights peak time of year for dangerous thunderstorms

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Louisiana has seen more than its fair share of severe weather. Recent tornadoes and of course historic flooding seems to prompt an even greater need for this year's Severe Storms Awareness Week, which is March 6-10.

Of course we all know about the potential problems caused by severe weather and we often put the greatest focus on those issues during hurricane season. However, March, April and May are the peak time of year for severe thunderstorms.

"Severe weather can impact the state at any point during the year. Many recent severe weather events also included little notice," said GOHSEP Director James Waskom. "It is extremely important to finalize your game plan now, before you face an emergency."

As part of Louisiana Severe Weather Awareness Week, the NWS will transmit a Tornado Test Message on NOAA Weather Radio Wednesday, March 8 at 9:15 a.m. The test message will be similar to the Routine Weekly Test message transmitted each Wednesday. Some NOAA Weather Radios will alarm with the test message, while others will only have a TEST message displayed on their LCD screens. The test message will allow citizens' to ensure their NOAA Weather Radios are in working order. In the event of severe weather, the test will be postponed to a later date.

Most severe thunderstorms occur between the mid-afternoon and mid-evening hours. While most of our severe weather fits that mold, keep in mind, under the right atmospheric conditions, severe thunderstorms can form at any time of day or night, and at any time of year.

In February, several tornadoes caused major damage to homes and businesses. But damaging winds that pose significant threat to life and property occur 10-20 times more frequently than tornadoes. Wind gusts of 80-100 mph can do just as much damage as weak tornadoes, and usually impact a much larger area than a tornado would.

When seeking shelter from severe thunderstorms, get inside a sturdy building, making sure to stay away from windows.

More dangerous than lightning or tornadoes is flooding.

Around 127 people die each year because of flooding. During the August 2016 flooding, 13 people died in flood waters.

The National Weather Service has a slogan known as "Turn Around, Don't Drown," which highlights the dangers of driving through flooded roadways. Nearly half of all flood related deaths occur in vehicles. In as little as 12" to 18" most cars will start to float. If that water is moving it can start to move the car. Often the vehicle will turn on its side trapping people inside and washing them downstream. If you encounter a flooded road, turn around and find a different route to your destination.

Remember a WATCH means conditions are favorable for severe weather or flooding.  A WARNING is when we detect on radar or get a report of dangerous weather.

The key is to stay safe when the weather gets rough. You can stay updated on the latest weather conditions with the WAFB weather team via Facebook, our website and our mobile app.

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