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UPDATE: Severe Weather Today: MEMA, PETA Prepare Your Family Ahead of the Storms

JACKSON, MISS– The National Weather Service predicts that severe weather will plague much of the state today, and News Mississippi is working to have you ready. 

Tornadoes, damaging wind, hail and heavy rain are expected across the Magnolia state today.

For the most western portion of the state: Natchez, up to Vicksburg, to just east of Greenville– you’re looking at the heaviest of storms hitting your area between noon and 6pm this evening.

Greenville, Greenwood, down through Jackson and Hattiesburg, you can expect storms between 2pm and 9pm tonight.

North Mississippi, down through Columbus and Meridian can expect the heavy stuff from 4-10pm.

The biggest threat of strong tornadoes is south of I-20, from Jackson and Vicksburg, east through Meridian, and south through Hattiesburg and Natchez.

When it comes to being prepared for this severe weather, Mississippi Emergency Management Agency Executive Director Lee Smithson says being alert is the best way to ready yourself for the storms.

“Know where you are when it comes to these storms. Listen to the local news television and radio reports, and your weather radio,” says Smithson.

Smithson also recommends knowing your surroundings at school, work, home, on the road, or wherever you may be in the event that you have to take cover.

“A car is the most dangerous place to be during a tornado, next to the mobile home,” says Smithson

If you find yourself in a situation where you are blocked in or isolated because of storm damage, Smithson says call 911.

“Even if that’s just to say ‘hey, we’re safe, but we just need someone to come check on us.’ Then they’ll contact MEMA, Red Cross, or other first responders if needed to come help you out. But dialing 911 is the best bet.”

When it comes to your pets, PETA has some tips on keeping them safe during bad weather:

·         Take animals indoors. Never leave them chained or penned up outside. If you seek safety within your residence, include any rabbits, dogs, cats, or other animals who can be taken indoors. Dogs have been sucked into the air, doghouse and all, during tornadoes.

·         If you need to move to a stronger structure, know your destination ahead of time. Although emergency shelters sometimes turn away animals, motels in the area are likely to accept dogs, cats, and other small animals in an emergency. Do not plan to leave animals unsupervised in a car—they can suffer from heatstroke once the ambient temperature rises above 70 degrees, even if water is available and the windows are slightly open, or the car may be overturned or crushed during a significant storm.

·         Move small animals in secure carriers, and keep dogs leashed. Frightening sounds and unfamiliar surroundings may make them bolt. Take water and food bowls, a favorite toy, a blanket, a towel, and enough food for at least a week.

·         Watch for other animals in need, including strays and animals who may have been left behind by neighbors. If you see an animal in distress and are unable to help, note the animal’s location and call authorities for help immediately.

News Mississippi will continue to follow these storms for you. Get the active weather alerts on Twitter @News_Ms or on Facebook at facebook.com/newsms.fm.

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