Planning and preparedness emphasized for Spring Severe Weather Preparedness Week

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Feb. 12—Gov. Tate Reeves has declared Feb. 11-17 as Spring Severe Weather Preparedness Week, and the Mississippi Department of Transportation is working to spread awareness about the importance of preparing for potential severe weather in Mississippi.

The purpose of Spring Severe Weather Preparedness Week is to remind the public about the potential dangers severe weather can cause, as well as provide information on ways to protect ourselves in the event of severe weather. Throughout the week, the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency and the National Weather Service will focus on different storm-related topics daily, including making a plan (Sunday), severe thunderstorms (Monday), flash flooding (Tuesday), tornadoes (Wednesday), lightning (Thursday), alerts and warning reception (Friday) and mobile home safety (Saturday).

MDOT Executive Director Brad White said it's important to make a plan before severe weather strikes as spring storms can be difficult to predict.

"As we approach the spring season, it is important for all residents to prioritize preparedness for severe weather. The unpredictability of spring storms demands a proactive approach to ensure the safety of our communities," he said. "By staying informed, having a plan in place and being ready to take action, we empower ourselves to face the challenges of severe weather and emerge resilient."

MDOT crews understand whether it is flash flooding, tornados or thunderstorms with dangerous, high-speed winds, severe weather can develop quickly in our state. During severe weather events, these crews monitor and respond to issues that arise on state roadways.

It is important for Mississippians to be able to receive severe weather alerts in multiple forms. MDOT encourages the public to utilize the resources provided such as the free MDOT Traffic mobile app, MDOTtraffic.com as well as alerts offered by other agencies.

Lauderdale County residents can also sign up for weather and other emergency alerts from the Lauderdale County Emergency Management Agency at LEMAonline.com or by texting their zip code to 888777. Those living or working within the Meridian city limits can also sign up for emergency alerts from the city's CodeRED alert system at meridianms.org/government/public-safety/codered or by texting "MERIDIANMS" to 99411. Residents without internet access or needing assistance signing up can call 601-484-6890.

For detailed preparedness information, MEMA has useful tips and information at msema.org. Local weather information and alerts are available through the National Weather Service online at weather.gov. If there is an immediate, life-threatening emergency, call 911 right away.

MDOT offers the following tips for encountering severe weather while on the road:

—Never drive through a flooded area; the water may carry your vehicle or cause it to stall.

—Do not use cruise control when the roads are wet. The distance it takes to stop increases in these conditions.

—If you encounter hail when driving, find shelter for your car.

—If you are in your vehicle during a tornado, seek sturdy shelter or the lowest part of the ground such as a ditch. Never seek shelter under highway overpasses.

—Use your headlights whenever conditions require the use of windshield wipers.

For more information about severe weather preparedness, visit GoMDOT.com/drivesmartms.

Contact Thomas Howard at thoward@themeridianstar.com