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Are you ready for violent weather?

By Holly Hollman · 340-2445

In a matter of seconds:

Your house could be a pile of oversized toothpicks.

Lightning could claim your life.

Hail could damage your windshield, causing you to wreck.

Sunday through Friday is Severe Weather Awareness Week and the theme is “In A Matter of Seconds.” During this week, emergency officials want Alabamians to make themselves aware of how to protect themselves when tornadoes and thunderstorms strike.

Daphne Ellison, spokeswoman for Athens-Limestone Emergency Management Agency, said every family should have an emergency plan, such as knowing where in the home to go should a tornado strike.

National Weather Service data indicate how often those of us in North Alabama encounter severe weather. Between 1950 and 2006, Limestone County experienced 26 tornadoes, Morgan County 28 and Lawrence County 22.

Tornado season is March, April and May, then again in November and early December.

Tornadoes get more attention, but the NWS said lightning claims more victims than tornadoes or hurricanes. Between 1995 and 2006, 109 injuries and 21 deaths were attributed to lightning in the state.

Hail also is a concern during thunderstorms and tornadoes. The state reported severe hail 51 days in 2006.

Local EMAs have brochures and pamphlets available to families on how to create their emergency plans and what to do when severe weather strikes.

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