This is Tornado and Severe Weather Awareness Week
April 11 to 15 has been proclaimed Tornado and Severe Weather Awareness Week, by Kenosha County Executive Jim Kreuser and Gov. Scott Walker.
During this time a statewide tornado drill is scheduled for Thursday, April 14 (Note:
I’m checking on this to see whether this day or date is correct since Friday is April 15 Corrected day now — DH).. At approximately 1 p.m., a mock tornado watch will be issued for the entire state and at approximately 1:20 p.m., a mock tornado warning will be issued for all of Southeast Wisconsin, which will include the sounding of Kenosha County’s Outdoor Warning sirens. The drill will conclude at 2 p.m. If severe weather should be present in the state on Thursday, April 14, the mock tornado drill will be cancelled.
As part of Tornado and Severe Weather Awareness Week, Kenosha County will be sponsoring a free Advanced Tornado Spotter’s Class on Thursday April 28, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., at the Kenosha County Center (Highways 45 and 50). Though the class is free, people need to RSVP to Kenosha County Emergency Management at 605-7900 to reserve a spot. A Basic Tornado Spotter’s Class is required prior to taking the Advanced Class.
“The Tornado and Severe Weather Awareness Week and the mock tornado drill offer opportunities for schools, businesses and families to discuss and practice for severe weather activities. It’s important that everyone regardless of where they are at when severe weather strikes, know what to do and where to go,” Kreuser said.
“The purpose of Tornado and Severe Weather Awareness Week, is to get people thinking about not only tornadoes and what one needs to do to protect themselves, their families and their property, but other types of severe weather as well,” said Lt. Ed Van Tine, Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department and director, Kenosha County Emergency Management. “People need to be aware of the dangers of severe thunderstorms/lightning which cause an average of 93 deaths and 300 injuries per year nationwide; flash floods/floods which kill nearly 140 people per year nationwide and cause millions of dollars in damages.”
The National Weather Service reported 46 confirmed tornadoes in Wisconsin last year, the second greatest number on record and far above the annual average of 21. Fortunately no one was killed but 22 people were injured and the tornadoes caused nearly $30 million in property damage. In late 2010, two tornadoes touched down in northern Kenosha County quickly moving into Racine County causing damage to homes and businesses.
“With regard to warning devices, all residents, schools and businesses are highly encouraged to purchase a NOAA All Hazard Weather Radio with a frequency of 162.450, the frequency assigned to Kenosha/Racine counties. For as little as $25, no matter where you live/work in Kenosha County, you can always get up to the minute weather information, specific to the Kenosha/Racine area and you will also be notified of non-weather events including chemical spills/releases, health events and other non-weather emergencies with specific instructions as to what you need to do, said Van Tine.
“Kenosha County also operates and maintains the outdoor warning sirens located throughout the county. The sirens are sounded when the National Weather Service issues a “Tornado Warning” or a “Severe Thunderstorm Warning with Hurricane Force Winds.” The sirens are an outdoor warning device meant to be heard outdoors or while in a vehicle; sirens are not meant to be heard indoors All citizens are asked to help maintain the sirens, by “Adopting a Siren” and notifying Kenosha County Emergency Management at 605-7900, when a siren does not sound. Kenosha County tests its outdoor warning sirens the third Saturday of each month at 10:30 a.m.
“To be prepared for severe weather, residents, schools and every business/facility should have an emergency plan,” said Van Tine. “Schools, businesses/facilities need to know the safest areas within their buildings that they should evacuate to for severe weather. Residents should evacuate to the basement or to the lowest level of their homes/apartment buildings; if they don’t have a basement, they should go to an interior room/closet with no windows. It’s important that everyone covers/protects their heads from injuries; it’s not the tornado or winds that may injure you, it’s the flying debris.”
When a tornado or severe weather strikes, it may cause wide spread power outages that could last for several days or weeks. It’s therefore important to have a “Family Disaster Supply Kit” which should include the following:
- A three-day supply of water (one gallon per day per person).
- A change of clothing,.
- One blanket/sleeping bag for each family member.
- A first aid kit including prescription medicines or a list of each prescription including doctor’s name, drug name and pharmacy, flashlight, weather radio, portable radio, extra batteries, extra set of car keys, credit cards/cash, special items for infants, elderly or disabled, ID cards, driver’s license and copies of important papers.
“If you find yourself without power or your home is damaged, you will still have the basic essentials to continue functioning,” said Van Tine. For more information on safety precautions during severe weather please contact Kenosha County Emergency Management at 262-605-7900.