Wisconsin’s Tornado and Severe Weather Awareness Week is April 16-20.
For the first time, radio, TV and cable channels will participate in the statewide Tornado Drill on Thursday, April 19, with a mock Tornado Watch at 1 p.m. and a mock Tornado Warning at 1:45 p.m.
This is a great time to make sure your family is ready for tornado season. It is also a great time to remember the important lessons learned from last year’s tornado outbreaks across the country.
On May 22, 2011, one of the deadliest tornados in U.S. history hit Joplin, Mo., directly killing 159 people and injuring over 1,000. The massive EF-5 with winds over 200 mph hit the city of more than 50,000. That’s about the same size as Janesville.
Despite the tornado warnings why were there so many deaths? A National Weather Service study on the Joplin tornado reveals important lessons learned: A majority of residents did not immediately seek shelter when tornado warnings were issued. People needed between two and nine warnings to take action and seek shelter. For example, if they heard the sirens going off they would look in the sky, then go to a TV to get information and then call a friend, etc. The time it took between those warnings and seeking shelter cost lives.
What can you do? Listen, act and live during tornado season.
Listen: When severe weather is possible – a thunderstorm or Tornado Watch has been issued – pick a credible source of information and keep in touch with that source until the danger has past. One of the best tools is a NOAA Weather Radio, also know as an Emergency Weather Radio.
Act: When you hear a Tornado Warning (tornado seen by spotters or detected on radar) seek the best shelter you can find immediately. Don’t waste time checking multiple sources of information. You may have only seconds to find a safe place.
Live: Your chances of survival multiply. Hopefully, the storm will pass with no damage. But don’t risk your life on a hope.
For more information visit the ReadyWisconsin website at http://readywisconsin.wi.gov. You’ll find great information on how to protect you and your family from tornadoes and other severe weather threats. You can also see tornado survival stories from those who lived through disaster thanks to their emergency weather radio.
Andrew Carlin is the director of Waupaca County Emergency Management.