Today is Thursday, August 17, 2017

Sirens went off: WEMA director

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DALLUS WHITFIELD/The Wilson Post

National Weather Service Meteorologist Justyn Jackson confirmed four EF-0 tornadoes in Wilson County last Thursday. The first was three-tenths of a mile southwest of Green Hill, tornadoes two and three were four miles southwest of Lebanon and the fourth was half a mile southeast of Lebanon, he said.

Several folks inquired on Facebook whether the tornado sirens in the county were working properly that day. Wilson County Emergency Management Director Joey Cooper told The Wilson Post on Tuesday that all 19 sirens - eight in Mt. Juliet, nine in Lebanon and two in Watertown - went off. "We have confirmation from credible sources that the sirens did go off," he said, adding that they are tested on the first Saturday of every month at noon.

Cooper explained that the sirens are a means of communication to the public when a tornado warning is issued. "What they are for is to warn people who are outdoors in a large crowded area. Most of them are located near parks, schools, shopping areas or where there are going to be a group of people gathered outside," he said. "Once they go off, you need to seek shelter."

Cooper said that in the event of a tornado, it is recommended to seek shelter in the middle part of a home or building - or basement, if available. "Whatever room is in the middle and has the least amount of windows," he said. "That protects you from glass and wind."

For those traveling in vehicles on the road, it is often recommended to get out of the car and into a ditch as a last effort once a tornado is spotted. "If you don't have a solid structure to get into, they do say get in a ditch line. Most tornadoes and wind will go across that ditch line and not pick anything out of it," Cooper said.

The upcoming forecast predicts a 40 percent chance of thunderstorms on Wednesday and a small, 20 percent chance on Thursday.

Jackson said that while meteorologists are still studying exactly what causes tornadoes, they believe moisture and wind shear are factors.

"Wind shear is essentially a change in the direction of wind or speed of wind with height. That is the biggest thing. Another factor we think it has to do with is moisture - it implies that the height of the thunderstorm cloud is closer to the ground and helps spin up some of these tornadoes."

Staff Writer Sabrina Garrett may be contacted at sgarrett@wilsonpost.com.

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