Emergency management leaders meet to talk severe weather - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Emergency management leaders meet to talk severe weather

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -- The same climate pattern that gave us the worst tornado outbreak in history is still with us, and La Niña could mean more severe weather this spring. State, regional, and local officials met in Chattanooga on Friday to prepare. They say the time to get ready is now.

"If they know the weather's coming but if they don't have a plan, it doesn't do any good if they know the weather's coming," says Bill Tittle, Chief of Hamilton County Emergency Management.

Since no La Niña year is exactly the same, George Mathews of the National Weather Service in Morristown, Tennessee says this may steer us away from another widespread disaster.

"Well, hopefully we don't have more to worry about as far as the intensity of one day being absolutely off the charts," says Mathews.

But because we're in the tail end of the La Niña, the stage may be set for severe storms earlier in the season than normal. In addition, the waters down south are ready for it.

"The Gulf of Mexico is warm enough to where that first big system that comes through here could be a pretty significant system," explains Mathews.

He says Tennessee averages 30 to 40 tornadoes a year, most of them in the spring. Tittle says there's one surefire way to receive information before the storm.

"Every home, we think, should have a battery powered weather alert radio," states Tittle.

On the state level, the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) has launched a 21st century lifeline to use before and after storms strike. The 'Ready TN' smart phone app is available for free on the Android, soon to be available on the iPhone.

"It gives you a good quick situational awareness about what roads are open, what emergency shelters are open," explains Jeremy Heidt of TEMA.

It also lets you contact local officials via phone or email and provides an interactive check-off list to make sure you have everything you need to survive without power or a home after a tornado strikes.

"We also have the social media links to all state agencies so you can communicate with the state as well," adds Heidt.

Severe bWeather Awareness Week for Tennessee is February 19-24. For more information about preparing for severe weather, visit the National Weather Service at http://www.stormready.noaa.gov/ .

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