An unusually late cold trough over the Rocky Mountains mixing with warm, moist air in the central plains has triggered violent storms and spawned tornadoes across a wide swath of the country. Unfortunately, neither the cold air mass nor the high-pressure system that has planted itself in the Southeast is showing signs of moving, according to the National Weather Service.

After witnessing the destruction left in the wake of the tornadoes and storms and with a chance of severe weather in the forecast for Franklin and surrounding counties this week, now is an opportune time to review our preparedness.

The NWS issues watches and warnings for thunderstorms and tornadoes. A watch, which usually covers a large area, is given when there is a possibility of severe weather. A warning, which is issued after a storm or tornado has been spotted or indicated on radar, pretty much means to take action now.

During a tornado warning, officials advise to DUCK:

D — Go DOWN to the lowest level

U — Get UNDER something (a staircase or desk)

C — COVER your head

K — KEEP in shelter until the storm passes

At home, a basement or an interior room away from windows is ideal. Being outside or in a vehicle during a tornado is unsafe. However, officials say that if you are caught in a vehicle, either get down on the floorboards and cover your head or seek shelter in a low-lying area such as a ravine or ditch. Do not take cover under an overpass.

Severe weather can happen at any time day or night and is more common here in the Bluegrass. Preparing ahead of time, having a game plan and practicing it is the best course of action in an emergency, according to the NWS, which urges folks to stay informed through a weather radio and local news outlets or by signing up for cellphone notifications.

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