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Severe weather doesn't follow a timeline

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CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- Wednesday was set aside as "Fall Severe Weather Awareness Day" by the National Weather Service to remind us that after a quiet summer, shifts in weather patterns can wreak havoc in the Tennessee valley even as autumn leaves change color.

"In the fall, like the spring, though not as frequently, the jet stream gets together with Gulf of Mexico moisture and sets up the opportunity for organized severe weather events," explained George Mathews with the National Weather Service forecast office in Morristown, Tennessee.

Although our most recent memory of severe storms is the tornado outbreak from late April, and we usually associate severe weather with spring, injuries occurred as a result of a tornado in the fall of 2010.

"Back on October 26 last year, the tornado that struck the Chickamauga Dam area, and even the day before had a smaller tornado," recalled Mathews. Other severe outbreaks have caused injuries and extensive damage over the past few decades.

Mathews stressed it's important to know how to prepare for and react to severe weather no matter what season it is. Mother nature doesn't always pay attention to the calendar and severe weather can occur almost any time of the year.

"Whether it's spring or fall, we need to be prepared for it and review some basic safety measures," said Mathews.

The best line of defense against severe storms is a weather radio which will alert you to approaching severe storms in time to take action. If a tornado warning is issued for your area the next time severe storms strike, move away from windows and seek shelter in the basement or lowest level of a sturdy building or structure. Get into an interior room such as a closet or bathroom. If possible, grab cushions and/or a helmet to protect yourself from flying debris. Following these few simple tips could save your life, even in the fall season.

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