April 13-17 is Tornado and Severe Weather Awareness Week in Wisconsin, and Kewaunee County Emergency Management is encouraging everyone to take time this spring to talk about weather safety with their families.
Kewaunee County Emergency Management, ReadyWisconsin, the National Weather Service and Wisconsin Broadcasters Association also encourage everyone in the state to participate in a Virtual Tornado Drill at 1:45 p.m. Thursday (April 16).
“It is essential that people take the time during this important week to ensure everyone living in their home knows what to do when a tornado warning or severe storm is in their area,” said Dr. Darrell L. Williams, Wisconsin Emergency Management administrator. “During Thursday’s Virtual Tornado Drill, we encourage them to spend a few minutes going over their plans and identifying where to seek shelter.”
Wisconsin averages 23 tornadoes annually. During the 2019 season, the NWS confirmed 28 tornadoes touched down in the state of Wisconsin. Of those, 18 occurred during a three-day period in late July, downing countless trees and damaging homes and other buildings across the central portion of the state.
The state has already experienced its first tornado this year, when a storm in late March produced an EF-1 tornado that touched down in Grant County. The tornado did not cause any injuries, but it did damage a home and barn. It’s a reminder that, while spring and summer are the most active times for tornadoes in Wisconsin, they can happen at any time of year.
While most of Wisconsin has become familiar with the annual statewide tornado drill, the ongoing response to COVID-19 in the state means a break from tradition this year. Due to technical limitations, there will be no live test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) that triggers NOAA weather radios and messages on broadcast stations. Communities should rest assured that these systems are still regularly tested. This departure simply means there will be no coordinated statewide test this year.
While some communities may still choose to test their outdoor warning sirens on April 16, Kewaunee County will not be doing so. In place of those alerts, you can expect to see messages from ReadyWisconsin and its partners (including Kewaunee County) across social media, encouraging everyone to take the time to go over their plans and practice them during this virtual drill. You can find tips on creating a plan with your family at https://readywisconsin.wi.gov
You can also follow ReadyWisconsin on Facebook (https://facebook.com/ReadyWisconsin) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/ReadyWisconsin) for updates throughout the week and tips on emergency preparedness throughout the year!