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Tornado Watch: Outbreak of Severe Weather Expected

Gwinnett Fire is monitoring the weather and will be ready, if needed.

UPDATED 6 p.m.: The National Weather Service has issued a Tornado Watch for most of Georgia, including all of Gwinnett County.

The Gwinnett County Department of Fire and Emergency Services will be ready if there is an outbreak of severe weather this evening.

Gwinnett Fire spokesman Tommy Rutledge said Monday afternoon that the department is monitoring weather conditions and “we have the resources available, if needed."

The department will monitor the weather from its Fire Operations Command Center or “War Room” at Fire Headquarters.  

A strong weather system has prompting severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings from Louisiana into southern Ohio, according to the Weather Channel. The system is expected to reach metro Atlanta around 10 p.m., and Gwinnett County by 11 p.m.

(new info) At 6 p.m., the National Weather Service issued a Tornado Watch for most of Georgia, including metro Atlanta and Gwinnett County.

Rutledge said that the fire department has an Emergency Operations Plan ready to be activated if needed. The plan reduces the numbers and types of equipment that would normally respond to a call (unless needed) so that resources are available to respond to other emergencies, such as storm emergencies.

“If the incident is confirmed, such as a house fire with flames showing, significant collapse, or report of people injured, then the appropriate numbers and types of equipment are deployed for a safe and efficient operation,” Rutledge said.

Rutledge also offered the following tips to be prepared for severe weather:

Have a severe-weather plan: Make sure everyone knows where to go inside the home during bad weather. Have on hand flashlights, blankets, portable radio, extra batteries, first aid kit and bottled water.

Charge your cell phone: In case your landline phone service goes out.

Know the difference between a watch and a warning: A watch means severe weather is possible. A warning means it’s imminent.

Monitor weather: Get the latest info from TV, radio or internet reports. Invest in a NOAA weather radio if possible.

Adjust outdoor activities: Delay or cancel outdoor plans when there’s a severe-weather threat.

While indoors: Stay away from open doors and windows until the storm has subsided. Seek shelter in the basement or an interior room. Avoid outside walls.

Lightning safety: Turn off (and/or unplug) electrical appliances until the storm passes. Stay off your landline phone and don’t take a shower or bath. Lightning can travel into a home via plumbing, gas lines and electrical lines.

If lightning strikes: If you believe lightning has struck your home, check for smoke or fire, including in the attic and basement. If you smell smoke or see charring around electrical outlets, evacuate the house and call 911.

Power lines: Consider any downed power line as “live or energized,” and call the fire department.

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