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County issues precautionary tips, as dangerous storms move through southeast

WYTHEVILLE, Va. – Over the past 48 hours a string of violent storms have torn through the southeast, causing numerous fatalities in multiple states.

This afternoon, tornado warnings were issued for a handful of Virginia counties west of Wythe and as the evening progresses the threat of additional storms will increase for the County of Wythe.

As a precaution, the Wythe County departments of public information and emergency management are seeking to remind local residents of important safety tips to follow in the event of a tornado.

Know the signs:
• Strong, persistent rotation in the base of a cloud
• Whirling dust or debris on the ground under a cloud base – tornadoes sometimes have no visible funnel
• Hail or heavy rain followed by dead calm or a fast, intense wind shift. Many tornadoes, especially in Virginia, are wrapped in heavy precipitation and can’t be seen.
• Loud, continuous roar or rumble, which doesn’t fade in a few seconds like thunder does
• If it’s night, look for small, bright, blue-green to white flashes at ground level (as opposed to silvery lightning up in the clouds). These lights are power lines being snapped by very strong wind, perhaps a tornado.
• Persistent lowering of the cloud base

Know the definitions:
Tornado Watch: a tornado is possible in your area. You should monitor weather-alert radios and local radio and TV stations for information.

Tornado Warning: a tornado has been sighted in the area or has been indicated by National Weather Service Doppler radar. When a warning is issued, take cover immediately.

Know what to do:
Stay informed: Pay attention to weather announcements during severe thunderstorms. Listen to weather-alert radios to stay informed of tornado watches and warnings. Also monitor commercial radio, television and the Internet.

If at home: If you’re at home and a tornado WARNING is issued for your area, move quickly to your basement and take cover under a stairway or sturdy furniture. If you don’t have a basement, take shelter inside a first floor room near the center of your home and stay away from windows or glass doors.

If in a vehicle or mobile home: The most dangerous place to be during a tornado is inside a car or mobile home. Tornadoes can easily lift a car or mobile home off the ground. When a tornado WARNING is issued for your area, immediately take shelter inside a nearby sturdy building. There are no tornado shelters in Wythe County.

If outside: If there’s no time to get indoors, or there are no buildings nearby, lie in a ditch or low area away from your vehicle. Bridges and overpasses won’t protect you because flying debris can get blown under them.

If at work or school: Tornadoes often occur when we’re at work or school. If a tornado WARNING is issued for your area, go to the basement, stairwell or inside hallway at the lowest level you can safely reach. Stay away from windows. Get under sturdy furniture such as a heavy table or desk. If you’re outdoors and a tornado is approaching, get inside a sturdy building right away or lie in a ditch or low area and cover you head.

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