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Tornado and Severe Weather Awareness Week in Wisconsin

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Tornado and Severe Weather Awareness Week in Wisconsin will take place April 8-12 this year. This annual campaign encourages everyone to prepare for the tornadoes and severe storms the state frequently experiences during the spring and summer months. It is also an opportunity for school administrators, safety officers and faculty to review their severe weather safety procedures and participate in statewide tornado drills at 1:45 p.m. and 6:45 p.m. on April 11, 2024.

During the drill times, Wisconsin’s National Weather Service offices will conduct NOAA Weather Radio tests that can be heard only if you are actively listening to those devices or have one programmed to activate on test alerts. Many communities may choose to test their outdoor warning sirens during the drill times and local media may also put out messages to encourage people to participate.

What can you do?

Schools, businesses, and people at home are encouraged to practice going to their nearest tornado shelter during the drills on April 11 at 1:45pm and 6:45pm, as if there were an actual tornado warning in effect. If there is a threat of severe weather in Wisconsin on April 11, the statewide drills will be postponed until Friday, April 12. The drill will go on in all other conditions, including nonsevere weather (clouds, rain, dark sky, scattered thunderstorms, etc.). If severe weather is also expected on Friday, the drill will be cancelled. Notification of the drill status will be posted at http://readywisconsin.wi.gov by 10:00 a.m. on the morning of April 11. You can also follow ReadyWisconsin on Facebook (https://facebook.com/ReadyWisconsin) and X (https://twitter.com/ReadyWisconsin) for updates.

Did you know?

Wisconsin averages 23 tornadoes annually. The National Weather Service (NWS) has confirmed21 tornadoes touched down in Wisconsin during 2023. You can see a list of tornadoes in the statelast year at https://www.weather.gov/mkx/wisconsintornadoes. For more information on tornadoes and severe weather, please contact your county or tribal emergency management director or your local NWS office, which you can find at https://www.weather.gov.

Tornado and Severe Weather Safety Tips

Have a Plan at Home, at Work, and When You’re Away

  • In a home or building, move to a pre-designated shelter, such as a basement, and get under a sturdy table or the stairs. A specially constructed “safe room” within a building offers the best protection.
  • If a basement is not available, move to a small interior room on the lowest floor and cover yourself with anything close at hand: towels, blankets, pillows. If possible, get under a sturdy table, desk or counter. Put as many walls as possible between you and the storm. Stay away from windows.
  • If caught outdoors, seek shelter in a sturdy building. If you cannot quickly walk to shelter, get into a vehicle, buckle your seatbelt and drive to the closest sturdy shelter. If flying debris occurs while you are driving, pull over and park. Now you have two options as a last resort:
    • Stay in the vehicle with the seatbelt on and place your head below the windows.
    • If you can safely get noticeably lower than the roadway, exit the vehicle and lie in that area, covering your head with your hands. Do not seek shelter under an overpass.
  • Mobile homes, even if tied down, offer little protection from tornadoes. You should leave a mobile home and go to the designated storm shelter or the lowest floor of a sturdy nearby building.
  • Make sure you have multiple ways to receive weather information. A NOAA Weather Radio, access to local TV, and smart phone apps can keep you informed when severe weather threatens.

Tornado Myths and Truths

MYTH: Areas near lakes, rivers, and hills are safe from tornadoes.
TRUTH: No place is safe from tornadoes. The tornado that struck Door County in August 1998 formed on the waters of Green Bay and moved onshore, causing over $5 million in damage.

MYTH: The low pressure with a tornado causes buildings to explode as the tornado passes overhead.
TRUTH: Violent winds and debris slamming into buildings cause most structural damage.

MYTH: Windows should be opened before a tornado approaches to equalize pressure and minimize damage.
TRUTH: Leave windows alone. The most important action is to immediately go to a safe shelter.

MYTH: People caught in the open should seek shelter under highway overpasses.
TRUTH: Take shelter in a sturdy, reinforced building if at all possible. The winds of a tornado may actually increase in the tight space of an overpass, increasing the chance for injury.

Don’t be caught surprised! Always have a way to receive the very latest forecasts and warnings from the National Weather Service.

Learn more at: Home | ReadyWisconsin