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Severe Weather Preparedness Week: Tornadoes and straight-line winds

Did you know winds from a severe thunderstorm can sometimes be just as destructive as a tornado?

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — "Wind is wind." 

Did you know winds from a severe thunderstorm can sometimes be just as destructive as a tornado? And oftentimes when people think of winds with a thunderstorm, they automatically think of tornadoes, but most years there are more damage reports from straight-line winds.   

Straight-line winds are winds within a thunderstorm that do not rotate. These winds can topple trees onto cars, houses, and power lines. Many deaths from straight-line winds are a result of trees falling onto people.  

When damaging straight-line winds or large hail is expected, the National Weather Service will issue a severe thunderstorm warning. When a severe thunderstorm warning is issued for your area or when threatening thunderstorms are approaching, you should seek shelter immediately!   

RELATED: Severe Weather Preparedness Week: Lightning safety

To stay safe during high winds, the same safety rules that are used for tornadoes also apply during straight-line wind events. You should seek shelter in an interior room on the lowest floor of a sturdy building, get away from windows, and get down low to protect yourself from possible flying debris and falling trees.  

Now, let’s talk about tornadoes. Here in the Charlotte-area and the Carolinas, we are no strangers to tornadoes. Just last Feb. 6 we had six reported tornadoes, where the 30-year-average for tornadoes from 1985 to 2014 is 28 per year in North Carolina and 21 for South Carolina.  

Looking closer to home, Cleveland County historically has the most reported per county in North Carolina with 27m dating back to 1950. This is why it is so important to be weather aware and be prepared when we are under a tornado watch!  

RELATED: Severe Weather Preparedness Week for the Carolinas starts now!

This means that conditions are favorable for tornadic development. When your county is under a tornado warning, that is your time to act! 

Like a severe thunderstorm warning, you need to get inside to your most interior room, and if you have a basement that is your safe place! Drop and cover your head and if you have a helmet, that is most ideal.  

It only takes a matter of seconds for damage to be done from a tornado or a severe thunderstorm, so stay safe!