TUPELO, Miss. (WTVA) -- Tornadoes like the ones dozens witnessed in April 2011 are possible in north Mississippi whenever conditions are just right.
"Yes, we're in tornado season right now, in the midst of tornado season more or less. Normally, there are two different tornado seasons here in North Mississippi and Western sections of Alabama," meteorologist John Dolusic. "[It] goes from February through May, [as well as] another that goes from mid-October to November. Usually the big months are March and April. And that's now in the midst of tornado season."
It makes sense to have a safe place to ride out the storm if and when they come. And when it comes to tornadoes, where you go makes a big difference.
"The best place to be when a tornado happens is underground," Dolusic said.
That might include an underground shelter like this one built by a local contractor.
It seats sixteen and is reasonably priced.
"Yes, it's as strong as you can get basically. It's eight inches of solid concrete all the way around you," Pontotoc contractor Perry Bost said. "And it'll withstand any tornado. It's been FEMA tested."
Going underground can be tough for some especially if they are wheelchair-bound, he says.
Not to worry, though, as he sells an above-ground model which is a little more expensive.
"They are safe. People don't feel like they are. And most people want to be in-ground. But you have people that may be handicapped in a wheelchair, and [they can't go down the stairs]," Bost said.
If you don't have an underground shelter to resort to when there's a tornado, there are lots of above-ground ones built courtesy of the local city and county governments in our area.
It's fortified and made of solid concrete, just like the underground shelters. However, there is a difference.
"Those can withstand most tornadoes," said Dolusic. "I'm not going to say all. If you get those like we had on April 27, when we had a lot of EF-5's, [it might not]."
That's when you are reaching the top point of those above-ground shelters.
But it's still a good idea to know where your nearest shelters and safe places are near your home.
If you use a shelter, you might consider an emergency kit with supplies and provisions just in case you have to stay for a while.
And if you get caught outside when a tornado hits, look for low-lying areas like ditches, gullies, or even river beds. Get to the lowest place possible.
Keeping up with your local weather conditions is a good idea too.
The professionals will have their eyes on the skies as severe weather approaches.
That's why it's a good idea to have your cell phone fully charged with the latest information handy.
You can also call for help if you need to. Above all, say the experts, try to to keep your cool as best you can.
It could help save lives.