Gov. Bev Perdue has declared February 27 through March 5 Severe Weather Awareness Week.
As part of the awareness, students and adults practiced tornado drills Wednesday morning. Officials say practicing important safety precautions could help them avoid serious injury if a tornado hits.
March, May, and November are the deadliest months for tornadoes in North Carolina. Forecasters say 26 tornadoes were reported in the state last year.
They say tornadoes form during heavy thunderstorms when warm, moist air collides with cold air. Storms can also produce large hail and strong winds.
Officials say residents should be equally prepared and listen to the radio or watch TV when other forms of severe weather threaten, such as lightning, floods or hail.
They say if a warning is used, take shelter on the lowest floor of the house and go to an interior room such as a hallway, pantry or closet.
Preparation for any type of severe weather also means having a family disaster plan and an emergency supply kit assembled and in a location that is easy to access during an emergency.
More information on tornadoes and overall emergency preparedness is available at www.ReadyNC.org.