Our view: Spring is on the horizon. So is tornado season. Now is the time to prepare.

Feb. 7—Tornadoes can happen at any time in the Tennessee Valley and throughout Alabama, but the most active season for those storms are the months from March to May.

Welcome to spring.

With Daylight saving time on the horizon — yes, that will still be a thing in 2024, on March 10 — we know that the season for challenging and unpredictable weather isn't far off. From the records books, Alabama confirmed 70 tornadoes in 2023 — 19 of those in March — resulting in dozens of injuries and nine deaths. The 10-year average for our state is about 60 tornadoes in a year.

And in 2024? As of Feb. 5, there have been six confirmed tornadoes and one fatality in the state.

Northern Alabama is served by the National Weather Service in Huntsville,, while the central region is served by the NWS office in Birmingham, Both sites have abundant resources outlining ways to stay safe during severe storms and tornadoes,, especially as we approach Alabama Severe Weather Awareness Week, Feb. 5-9.

Those resources include informative graphics and interactive maps, and also a map that details information about weather sirens and alerts in each of Alabama's 67 counties. You can also find detailed explanations about levels of tornado warnings, and tips to stay safe on a NWS page devoted to Tornado Safety Rules,, such as:

Tornado watch: conditions are favorable for tornado development. Pay attention to the sky and a NOAA weather radio or tune into local media. Use the time to review safety rules.

Tornado warning: a developing tornado has been detected by NWS doppler radar, or a reliable sighting of a tornado has been reported. Tornado warnings are typically issued for one or two counties and can last for about an hour. Such storms can also produce hail and destructive straight-line winds. Seek shelter immediately.

In the event of a tornado, the NWS also offers common sense safety rules in case you can't get to its website for review:

—In general, get as low as you can. That could be a basement below ground level or the lowest floor of a building.

—Don't waste time opening or closing windows or doors. Doing so will not protect the structure.

—Tornadoes can be obscured by rain or nightfall. Don't wait to see or hear one until you react.

—In homes or buildings, go to the basement of a small interior room, such as a closet or bathroom. Close all doors to the hallway.

—In mobile homes, leave well in advance of approaching severe weather. If that's not possible, lie flat, covering your head with your hands for protection.

—In vehicles or when outdoors, find shelter in a ditch or remain in your vehicle and cover your head for protection. Do not use a highway overpass as shelter where wind speeds increase due to a tunneling effect.

—At all times, stay away from doors, windows and outside walls, and protect your head.