This is CNN telling us to prep for disasters….featured story on the front page right now. heh heh
Atlanta (CNN) — Ranee Roberts feels lucky to have survived the impact of a tornado that hit her Alabama convenience store in April. “Before the twister hit, I sent a last text to say ‘I love you’ to my best friend, and then the building began to come apart around me,” said the 34-year-old from Henagar.
Roberts said she knew only about two minutes before impact that the twister was heading toward her store. The tornado was rated an EF-4, with estimated winds peaking at 175 mph. “There was no time for preparations, only prayer,” she said. “I felt utterly hopeless thinking I might be spending my last moments on Earth curled up on the stockroom floor.”
Looking back, she was ill-prepared for the storm and its aftermath. She felt that she got off extremely lucky walking away with “just a few scratches” to her body.
She learned from her harrowing experience to keep a first-aid kit, flashlight, bicycle helmet, battery-powered radio, power generator and Meals Ready to Eat in her storm closet.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a record 14 weather and climate disasters in 2011 caused $1 billion or more in damage, including the Alabama tornado that Roberts survived. At least 669 people died in these storms and thousands were injured.
“In my four decades of tracking weather, I have never seen extreme weather like we had in 2011,” said Jack Hayes, NOAA’s assistant administrator for weather services and the National Weather Service director.
Although no two years are alike, Hayes said, it’s important for Americans to be prepared for the worst. “The U.S. population has almost doubled since 1954, and trends such as urban sprawl and conversion of rural land to suburban landscapes increase the likelihood a tornado will impact densely populated areas,” he said.
“We have also become more vulnerable to coastal storms and hurricanes as more people are living in coastal areas.” Hayes said the 2011 Southern drought and floods across the northern U.S. represent the extreme temperature and precipitation swings that climate scientists project will become more common amid a warming climate.
“You’ve got to be proactive in preparing for extreme weather,” she said. “An extreme weather condition, like the tornado I experienced, doesn’t care if you are rich, poor, young or old,” said Roberts. “What does matter is how prepared you are and how quickly you react when time is of the essence.”