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Severe Weather Awareness Week Observed April 2-6

By Staff | Apr 3, 2012

The Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management Division and the National Weather Service have declared the week of April 2nd through April 6th, 2012 as Severe Weather Awareness Week. Severe Weather Awareness Week is an annual event to remind Iowans that severe weather is part of living in our state and that understanding the risks and how to respond to them can save lives.

The event is designed as an annual reminder for all Iowans that severe weather is part of living in Iowa and understanding the risks of severe weather and how to respond to them.

During Severe Weather Awareness Week, the National Weather Service will promote severe-weather safety by issuing informative Public Information Statements. Daily topics will include flooding, severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, NOAA Weather ALL Hazards Radio, and family preparedness.

Each day of Severe Weather Awareness Week will highlight a different aspect of severe weather awareness. The week opens on Monday with a focus on flash flooding. Flash flooding is the most deadly thunderstorm threat in the United States. Never drive into a flooded area!

Tuesday is the day to think about warning reception. Over the years, the ways to get hazardous weather warnings have changed. On Tuesday, Iowans should focus on how to get a warning. Do you know how you get a warning? The differences between a watch and a warning are this: Watch: A National Weather Service product indicating that a particular hazard is possible, i.e., that conditions are more favorable than usual for its occurrence. A watch is a recommendation for planning, preparation, and increased awareness (i.e., to be alert for changing weather, listen for further information, and think about what to do if the danger materializes).

Warning: A product issued by National Weather Service local offices indicating that a particular weather hazard is either imminent or has been reported. A warning indicates the need to take action to protect life and property. The type of hazard is reflected in the type of warning (i.e., tornado warning, blizzard warning, etc.).

The highlight of Severe Weather week will be the statewide tornado drill on Wednesday, April 4. The drill will follow this timeline. At 9:50 a.m., the National Storm Prediction Center (SPC) will coordinate with the Iowa National Weather Service (NWS) offices about a test tornado watch for Iowa. At 10:00 a.m., the SPC will issue a Test Tornado Watch for Iowa. Each Iowa weather forecast office will issue test Watch Coordination Notification messages. Test watches will be toned and alerted on NOAA All Hazards Radio and sent through the Emergency Alert System (EAS) if allowed by the Federal Communications Commission.

At 10:10 a.m. the NWS offices in Sioux Falls. SD and Omaha, NE, will also issue test tornado warnings for their Iowa counties. The NWS offices in Des Moines and the Quad Cities will issue their test tornado warnings for their Iowa counties at 10:15 a.m. and the LaCross, WI, NWS office will issue its test tornado warning for its Iowa counties at 10:20 a.m.

The test tornado warning will conclude at 10:30 a.m. when a Severe Weather Statement is issued by the Iowa NWS offices. At 11 a.m., the Test Tornado Watch will expire.

It is important to note that if the threat of severe weather actually exists on Wednesday, April 4, there will be no tests. The test will be conducted the following day.

The importance of knowing what to do in case of a tornado is vitally important. In 2011, over 500 people died in the United States from tornadoes! One such killer storm devastated Joplin, MO. Do you know where the safest place is in your home or car?

Thursday – This is severe thunderstorm day. Hundreds of severe thunderstorms hit Iowa each year. It is proven that severe thunderstorms can be as dangerous as tornadoes.

Friday will be devoted to Family Preparedness. Iowans are urged to take time to learn about family safety from natural and man made hazards.

All Iowans are reminded that severe weather is part of being in Iowa and that understanding the risks and how to respond can save lives.

Palo Alto County Emergency Management Director Mark Hunefeld encourages all county residents to take time to consider what they would do in case of an actual severe weather event, by responding as if the drill were “the real thing.”

For more information on Severe Weather Awareness week, go to