Tornado and Severe Weather Awareness Week: April 12-16, 2021
Get Inside and Then Get Information
April 12-16, 2021, is Tornado and Severe Weather Awareness Week in Wisconsin. “The worst case scenario in emergency management planning is a disaster within a disaster. Here we are in 2021, still in the midst of a pandemic, and preparing for tornadoes and severe weather,” says September Murphy, Lincoln County Emergency Management Director.
On Thursday, April 15, 2021, a statewide virtual tornado drill will take place at 1:45 p.m., and 6:45 p.m. Virtual meaning there will be no statewide audio alert systems on radios or televisions.
“This is still a good opportunity for members of our community to take an active role in their own safety and of those around them at work and at home,” says Chief Bennett from the Merrill Police Department. Your plan should include where you will go and how you will get there. Lincoln County last had a tornado roll through the northwest corner in July 19, 2019. The most destructive tornado came through the City and Town of Merrill on April 10, 2011. The state averages around 20 tornadoes a year.
Outside warning sirens are only one tool in an integrated public warning system. “The sound of outside warning alarms indicate to get inside and then get information,” says Assistant Chief Hoffman from Russell Volunteer Fire Department. Stay alert to news media, whether through social media, radio, or television. It is also a good idea to have apps on your phone that alert you, especially when you travel. A NOAA weather radio can wake you when you are asleep. Having the redundancy in notification increases effectiveness, allowing individuals to take quick action, as there is not always advance notice of disasters.
The City of Merrill tests and sounds their outside warning sirens every week on Wednesdays at noon. The Town of Russell tests and sounds their sirens April through September on the first Monday night at 7:00 p.m.
Here are a few tornado safety tips to remember as you practice our own safety drills.
Tornado Safety Tips:
• Go to a safe room, basement, or storm cellar
• If there is no basement, get to a small interior room on the lowest level
• Stay away from windows, doors, and outside walls
• If outside, get to a sturdy building
• Do not get under an overpass or bridge – You’re safer in a low flat location
• Watch for flying debris that can cause injury or death
• Use your arms to protect your head and neck
• Stay informed – monitor local weather reports