RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Schools across central North Carolina prepared for severe weather by participating in a practice tornado warning on Wednesday morning. At Hunter Elementary School in Raleigh, students followed their teacher’s lead to head to a safe place in the school.
Fifth-grader Aiden Hale has been practicing for a tornado warning since he was in kindergarten.
“Since we have our annual drills, we don’t have any reason to be scared of these. So, if an emergency were to happen, we would know where to go. So, I feel it went pretty well this morning,” he said.
The practice tornado warning was issued across the state. All schools were encouraged to participate. Hunter Elementary principal Briana Pelton knows why it’s important.
“We prioritize safety. We want all of our teachers to know how to keep children safe, and we want our children to know what we’re going to do if and when we ever have a weather emergency,” she said.
After the drill, fifth-grade students got to witness a simulated tornado. This was courtesy of Nick Petro, who is the Warning Coordination Meteorologist at the National Weather Service. Petro had a machine that produced water vapor, and the machine had fans to move that vapor into a shape of a twister. He was able to show the swirling motion of a tornado and teach the children basic safety tips.
“The basic rule of thumb is really simple,” Petro said. “You want to get down low. You want to get inside an interior room on the lowest floor. You want to put as many walls between you and the outside.”
Petro talked about why tornadoes can be deadly.
“When it comes to tornado damage, what usually kills or injures people is flying debris. So get down low and protect your head,” he said.
With March through May being the three most dangerous months for tornadoes, everyone should have a plan at home also.
“A day ago, well a few days ago, we were going over our tornado plan in our home,” Aiden said. “We go to a back closet of our house where there are no windows.”
Aiden has come to respect severe weather, but if a future career choice includes meteorology, he will keep his distance from any storms.
“Being a storm chaser would be kind of dangerous. Doing the forecast would be pretty cool, or maybe working with weather models.”
Severe Weather Preparedness Week continues on Thursday. The subject will be the dangers of lightning.