The Storm Prediction Center has a large portion of the South in an outlook for Severe Weather on Tuesday, March 24, 2020. The yellow are is for a “Slight Risk” (2 out of 5) and that area is surrounded by a dark green area, which is for a “Marginal Risk” (1 out of 5), for Severe Weather.
According to The Storm Prediction Center, the primary threat should be damaging winds. But conditions may be favorable for the development of some Tornadoes.
Surface-based thunderstorms that develop in this area Tuesday afternoon could obtain a severe threat due to the strong deep-layer shear in place. O-6 km shear is forecast to be in the 70 to 80 kt which would be favorable for Supercells and Bowing line segments (Bow Echoes). Although, wind damage would be the primary threat, hail would also be possible with the stronger updrafts. Low-level shear is also forecast to be sufficient for an isolated tornado threat.
With the threat of COVID-19 and the possible threat of Severe Weather, decisions have to be made about what to do about sheltering for Severe Weather. Below is information posted on the Cherokee County, Al. EMA’s Facebook page related to this topic.
According to Tim Hatch with the Department of Public Health, their recommendation was that you protect yourself from the greatest threat first, which at the time of a tornado warning, would be the tornado.
Below is the statement that was vetted among the 4 Alabama National Weather Service offices.
“The decision to seek shelter in a community storm shelter is certainly made more difficult by the consideration for COVID-19, and each individual will need to make an educated decision on where and when to shelter from a tornado.At this time, the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) is recommending that your first priority should be to protect yourself from a potential tornado. If a warning is issued for your area, you are more likely to be affected by the tornado than the virus. However, the decisions to open any community shelters are done at the local or county level. Before you make a decision to go to a community shelter, you should check with your community shelter managers to ensure they are open, and if there are any local COVID-19 considerations. Certainly, wherever you choose to shelter from a tornado, you should use as many precautions as possible to inhibit the spread of COVID-19 as best as you can. If you rely on public community shelters, now may be the time to explore other options that might keep you safer from severe weather and possibly limit your exposure to COVID-19.”
The best way to prepare for this potential scenario is to keep up with the latest weather forecast as well as the latest recommendations regarding COVID-19 from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the ADPH, and local authorities.”