Six Texas fatalities - Is West Virginia prepared for tornadoes? - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Six Texas fatalities - Is West Virginia prepared for tornadoes?

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RALEIGH COUNTY -

A string of tornadoes Wednesday night left a trail of destruction in North Texas. The twisters killed at least 6 people, injured dozens and destroyed homes.

Although Southern West Virginia is over 1,000 miles away from Granbury, Texas and almost completely surrounded by mountains, tornadoes have touched down and damaged our area before. 

We found out how prepared the Mountain State would be if a tornado did touch down in our area.

59 News Chief Meteorologist Spencer Adkins told us it's been a while since a twister hit ground here.

"In 1990 there were several tornadoes, they were in Fayette and Greenbrier counties. We also had a tornado in 2011 come right over our station's building but it didn't touch down," Adkins said.

If one were to touch down here, he said we'd have to quickly get to a shelter or other safe place.

"With a tornado watch, you have a 6 hour window in which you could see a tornado, with conditions being right. With a warning, you want as much lead time as possible, it could be between 15 minutes to an hour."

Local residents told 59 News they would not be as prepared as they would like.

"I don't think we would be prepared, we look at the news and we see all the storms that happen and we take the warning lightly," said Keisha Hamby of Beckley.

"Not very many people that live here, unless they've lived in other places that have had them, would be prepared," Fayette County's David Hayes told us.

To protect yourself from a tornado and if you don't have a basement, your best bet is actually your bathroom, as long as there's no windows. You're just going to want to climb in and stay in your bathtub.

"If you do have a basement or cellar, that would be your first choice, if not, go to the lowest level you can in your home, stay away from outside walls or windows," Raleigh County's Director of Emergency Services, Kevin Taylor said.

Taylor recommended keeping a survival kit in your home and vehicle.

"Anything you think you might need, hand sanitizer, a plastic bag for hygiene issues," he said.

He also encouraged everyone to buy a weather radio for immediate updates on storm and tornado warnings and watches in Southern West Virginia. Taylor showed 59 News his weather radio.

"For the school system, I set Raleigh County and every county that touches and surrounds Raleigh, so there's a total of 7 or 8 counties, that way I'll know what might be heading our way."

Weather radios can be bought at Walmart or Radio Shack and most are around $25.00

For more preparedness tips, you can check out "Beckley Ready" on Facebook and Twitter.