By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Northeast Mississippi’s first real test of its new weather alert system could come today as a swarm of dangerous storms heads toward the region.
Eight counties signed up for CodeRED, a service that tracks severe weather and warns people in its path with a recorded phone message. Participating counties include Calhoun, Chickasaw, Itawamba, Lafayette, Lee, Monroe, Pontotoc and Union.
The system went live Jan. 30 in Lee County and spread to all counties by mid-February, said John Byers, technical assistance division director for Three Rivers Planning and Development District, which facilitated the contracts.
But an estimated 80 percent of the area’s households have yet to register for the service. It’s free for residents within those counties but requires them to sign up online. Those without computers must seek family, friends and neighbors with Internet access to help them register.
“Pontotoc has 11,172 occupied housing units, and as of today, they have right under 2,000 (phone) numbers signed up,” Byers said. “Lee has 32,000 occupied housing units, and 5,200 signed up.”
Byers said Lafayette has the highest participation rate so far with about 30-40 percent of its residents registered.
A line of dangerous storms is expected to hit Northeast Mississippi today and produce heavy rain, damaging winds, large hail and tornadoes, according to AccuWeather.
It said its “meteorologists are concerned that Friday’s severe weather outbreak has the potential to be more substantial than the one that blasted through similar areas Tuesday night and Wednesday.”
That system produced 30 tornadoes and killed at least a dozen people across the Midwest.
Free Weather Alerts
REGISTER FOR CODERED at www.trpdd.com/codered. Participants must enter their home and cellphone numbers, address and which weather alerts they want: tornado, severe thunderstorm or flash flood.
Its available for residents of Calhoun, Chickasaw, Itawamba, Lafayette, Lee, Monroe, Pontotoc and Union counties.