Shortly before 2 p.m. on Thursday, the South Plains was on high alert for a tornado.
The police scanner blared, "The National Weather Service in Lubbock has issued a tornado warning for eastern Floyd County and western Lockney County."
Trained weather spotters reported a funnel cloud about 10 miles northeast of Floydada at 1:50 p.m.
The scanner said, "Abandon mobile homes and vehicles for more substantial shelter, avoid windows. A tornado may form at any time. Take cover now."
So where can you go in Lubbock and surrounding areas to be safe? What are the proper precautions to take if you're caught in an outbreak of hail, heavy rains or a tornado? Are there public shelters available if severe weather strikes?
According to Lubbock County Emergency Management Coordinator Clinton Thetford, there is no public shelter for severe weather situations in Lubbock or Lubbock County. In fact, officials want to discourage people from trying to find shelter away from their homes.
"We do not recommend that people leave their homes, get in their cars to try to escape from the tornado. There are several people who have been killed that way," Thetford said.
Thetford says half of all people who get killed during severe weather left their homes to seek shelter somewhere else, while their homes were never touched by a tornado.
"If you take your chances with dangerous weather, you are risking your life and your families' lives," he says.
Lubbock Deputy Fire Marshal Robert Loveless echoed Thetford's concerns.
"As far as one location where everybody goes to in this situation, there is not one of those," Loveless said.
He says the worst thing you can do is get in your car and leave where you are.
"Chances are (you) wouldn't have time to get in (your) car and drive across town. Getting out in your vehicle is one of the worst things you can do," Loveless said.
So, how can you protect yourself from the elements when things get really bad?
Thetford suggests setting up shelter systems within community groups.
"Citizens need to take responsibility for their own safety. It's up to you to take care of yourself and your own family," Thetford said.
He encourages people to work with their neighborhood associations, clubs and faith-based groups to set up a shelter plan. Thetford says groups should aim to answer the question, "How do we make the community resilient?"
It is also important to find safe places within your home to take shelter. Thetford says the safest places in a building are a small closet, a bathroom or a hallway, away from any windows. He says the more walls between you and the outside the better.
For tornado safety tips click here: http://www.ready.gov/tornadoes.
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