Virtual tornado drill planned for April 16
Clark County Emergency Management, Wisconsin Emergency Management (WEM), ReadyWisconsin and the National Weather Service (NWS) have teamed up for Wisconsin’s Tornado and Severe Weather Awareness Week from April 13-17.
This year things will look and be different than other years. On April 16, residents are encouraged to take part in a virtual tornado drill. There will be no test alerts issued via the Emergency Alert System or NOAA All-Hazards radios but this does not mean you should not practice your plans. Please set aside 15 minutes during the day to practice the actions you would take if there was a tornado. Practice going to your place of shelter and discuss your plans with your family. Clark County will not be activating outdoor warning sirens as part of the virtual drill.
Monthly testing of outdoor warning sirens will resume in May, These outdoor warning sirens are located in communities throughout Clark County. This would include the voice message sirens which are located in the campgrounds of Russell Memorial Park in Hatfield and Rock Dam Park. This monthly testing is scheduled for the first Wednesday of the month between 5-6 p.m. The tests will be conducted even if there is cloudy weather but will be postponed if there are thunderstorms in the area or if there is a threat for severe weather.
These sirens serve as a warning for those who may be outdoors when severe weather approaches. They are not intended to be used as a warning for those who are indoors. When indoors, it is important to have an alternate source of emergency information such as a NOAA All-Hazards radio or through local radio/TV or via the internet or cell phone apps which are available. There are multiple ways to receive information. What is most important is to have a source that is available.
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. Clark County had 3 confirmed tornadoes in 2019. Two of the tornadoes impacted the northern part of the county in July and one impacted the central part of the county in September.
In addition to tornadoes, Wisconsin is also susceptible to the hazards associated with severe thunderstorms such as high winds, flooding, lightning, and large hail. It is important that governments, schools, businesses, and private citizens be aware of how to recognize when severe weather threatens them and what to do in the event of dangerous weather conditions.
Tips to stay safe at home work or school: -- In a home or building, avoid windows. Move to a basement. If a basement is not available move to a small interior room or hallway on the lowest floor and cover yourself with towels, blankets or pillows. Put as many walls as possible between you and the storm. Wearing a bike helmet will help protect your head.
-- If outdoors, seek shelter in a sturdy building. If you cannot get to shelter, stay in your vehicle with the seatbelt on and place your head below the windows. 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.
-- At school, go to the interior hall or room. Crouch low, head down, and protect the back of your head with your arms. Stay away from windows and large open rooms like gyms and auditoriums Clark County Emergency Management strongly encourages everyone to discuss and practice their plans as part of this virtual drill and take the necessary steps to prepare for emergencies and weather hazards not only at home but also at school and places of employment. Have a disaster plan as well as preparing disaster supply kits for home and your vehicle to include such things as drinking water, non-perishable food, flashlights, radios, batteries, along with blankets and spare clothing among other items.
Information regarding preparedness can be found at websites such as ready.gov and other such as the Ready-Wisconsin website, American Red Cross website and Clark County Emergency Management website.