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Alabama Emergency Management Agency discusses dangers of nighttime tornadoes

Storms at night can be more dangerous and difficult for first responders.

Posted: Mar 16, 2021 8:57 PM
Updated: Mar 16, 2021 10:21 PM

Wednesday's storms have a possibility of hitting North Alabama while it is dark out.

Alabama Emergency Management Agency Deputy Director Jonathan Gaddy said it is important to not just sleep off a storm. He said to have a device like a phone or radio with weather alerts in case a threat is near you.

Photo of tornado damage in Fultondale, Alabama in January 2021; Credit: Fultondale Fire Department

"We are really, really concerned this event could be a nighttime event," Gaddy said.

In January, a nighttime EF-3 tornado in Fultondale devastated the town, killing one person and injuring at least 30.

"In Alabama, unfortunately, we can have tornadoes any time of the day and any time of the year," Gaddy said.

When a tornado happens at night, Gaddy said it is nearly impossible to see.

"Tornadoes in Alabama are often really hard to spot," Gaddy said. "It's not like it is out in the great plains where you can see these things for miles. We've got terrain, often time, there's a lot of rain, it's dark, so you can't rely on being able to see it."

He said storms at night also make it harder for first responders to do their job.

"You're gonna have trees, powerlines down that are really going to hamper the ability of responders to get in that area," Gaddy said. "There are several things that contribute to the devastation that we see with these nighttime tornadoes."

Gaddy added to have a preparedness plan in place, especially as the sun goes down.

"But the main thing to remember is, if you know there is a warning, take some action to protect yourself," Gaddy said.

Storm shelters are an option if you do not have a safe space in your home. They will typically open up once a tornado watch is in effect.

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