After several weeks of no measurable precipitation, the skies opened above local communities early October 26 for a morning of severe weather.

Severe winds produced damage in both Hopkinsville and Clarksville, as well as throughout much of the Midwest. While Fort Campbell received both rain and wind, which resulted in some brief power outages, the installation survived the storms without any major losses. According to reports for Fort Campbell's Military Police, some trash cans, debris and sticks were the only items to be disturbed.

As severe weather season ramps up, the Army is on the forefront of keeping military Families safe.

The Ready Army campaign helps prepare installations for many different types of disasters. The campaign encourages Soldiers, Families and civilians to "Get a Kit, Make a Plan and Be Informed."

Installation Emergency Manager Danny Greene said the community should be prepared for more tornadoes and thunder storms as the seasons change.

"They are calling for us to have more of that type of activity," Greene explained.

Emergency kits should include food and water to provide for three days. Other necessities include extra medicines, a weather radio, flashlights and the like.

In terms of planning, Families should predetermine what they would do in case they are separated in an emergency. A contact number should be memorized by all Family members, and it is advisable that someone out of town be in the loop. When local telephone service is spotty, it's often much easier to contact long-distance relatives or friends.

Whether at work, school or home, a designated shelter is another priority.

"People around here need to conduct tornado drills if they haven't," Greene said.

Basic safety measures should be observed, depending on the emergency. For example, if in the midst of a tornado warning, people should move to an interior room or basement and avoid driving.

"Projectiles can come through windows and hurt you," Greene said. "If you're at work, you need to get underneath a desk. If you're outside, if you can inside a building, you need to."

While tornadoes are more likely during spring, these weather patterns can emerge any time warm air meets cool air. The resulting storms can boast wind speeds of 250 mph or more.

Signs of an approaching tornado or storm include debris being whipped around in the air, and there is often a calm period in the midst of an intense storm before the tornado arrives, Greene explained.

Fort Campbell does have a voice/siren alert system functional when severe weather approaches. However, the system only activates after the Air Force weather squadron confirms a funnel cloud or other tornado activity on the installation.

Being informed about what indicates a watch versus a warning is another key to help stay safe when the clouds roll in unexpectedly. A watch indicates there is a possibility for a severe weather event, while a warning lets people know that a tornado "has actually been spotted," Greene said.

"When there's a tornado warning and it affects the post, [the alert system] goes off," Greene said.

The alert system is tested the first Tuesday of each month.

For more information about disaster readiness, visit the Ready Army website at www.ready.army.mil.

Page last updated Mon November 1st, 2010 at 13:58