Severe weather occurs year round, but Mississippians endure two primary severe weather seasons: one from February through April and another in November. During these seasons, numerous strong, violent tornadoes have struck communities, taking lives and injuring hundreds of people.
In advance of each severe weather season, the state emphasizes severe weather preparedness through statewide drills and community outreach events in coordination with local schools and other key stakeholders. Governor Phil Bryant declared the last week of October as Tornado Preparedness Week to rally residents to take action.
The Magnolia State Prepares through Proactive Partnerships
In collaboration with America’s PrepareAthon!, the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) and National Weather Service (NWS) Forecast Office in Jackson, MS, kicked off the statewide initiative known as Mississippi’s PrepareAthon! for Tornado Safety in February 2015.
MEMA worked with more than 80 local emergency managers to encourage their communities, schools, and businesses to take part in the initiative. Hundreds of schools participated including Gary Road Intermediate School in Byram, MS. Remarkably, during the drill, school administrators and faculty helped more than 700 students shelter in place in just 1 minute and 30 seconds.
"We were shocked to find that there were people
who did not already have a tornado preparedness
plan for their homes. By engaging them in
Mississippi's PrepareAthon! we were able to initiate
that conversation with them and hopefully save lives."
--Steve Wilkinson, Warning Coordination Meteorologist,
Preparedness Characters Help Residents Learn Prep Tips
To support community outreach, MEMA and NWS Jackson joined in a public-private sector partnership with Walmart.® This event featured MEMA’s Kids Preparedness Characters, which are three mascot animals that teach children about preparing for emergencies. The trio interacted with customers to highlight the importance of being prepared and handed out America’s PrepareAthon! resource guides, including How to Prepare for a Tornado. Walmart provided sample items for an emergency supply kit to have on hand before, during, and after a storm hits. Residents witnessed a simulated tornado thanks to NWS Jackson and asked a meteorologist about where to take shelter in their homes.
MEMA Preparedness Resources Keep Residents Ready
To keep emergency preparedness at the forefront, MEMA offers tips on how to prepare your family and home for tornadoes and other hazards. Visit www.msema.org/be-prepared to access resources, including a Tornado Activity Sheet for children and tips on building your own safe room.