Now is the time to be ready for severe weather
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[March 05, 2013]
Despite drought and record heat
in Illinois during 2012, severe thunderstorms and tornadoes still
took their toll on the state. Tragically, eight people were killed
and 108 injured when an early morning twister devastated the towns
of Harrisburg and Ridgway with 180 mph winds last year on Feb. 29.
During the spring and summer of 2012, dozens of other tornadoes and
damaging straight-line winds injured 17 people and killed one
To help the citizens of Illinois be more aware of the dangers of
severe storms, the National Weather Service has declared the week of
March 3-9 as Severe Weather Preparedness Week. In addition, the
annual statewide "tornado drill" will be on Tuesday at 10 a.m.
(Update: The drill is postponed to Wednesday at 10 a.m.) At
that time, Illinois NWS offices will send an actual tornado warning
as a test to local media outlets through the Emergency Alert System,
as well as to those with weather alert radios. People are encouraged
to use this time to practice their tornado safety plans at home,
schools, businesses and anywhere groups gather. Many local
communities will also test their outdoor warning sirens during the drill.
The Illinois Emergency Management
Agency is also taking part in preparedness efforts by offering
safety tips on the state's preparedness website,
www.readyillinois.gov, during the entire month of March. People
across the state can enter a contest on the Ready Illinois website
to win one of more than 100 weather alert radios. The radios were
purchased and donated by the Illinois Emergency Services Management
Association, a nonprofit organization of statewide emergency
"Outdoor warning sirens are a small part of the warning process
during threatening weather, not the only part." said Chris Miller,
warning coordination meteorologist with the NWS in Lincoln. "Around
30 percent of all tornadoes occur at night, when it is difficult to
hear the outdoor sirens in your home -- especially while asleep.
Weather alert radios will wake you up and give you potentially
lifesaving warnings. They are like having your own personal storm
siren," said Miller.
The state of Illinois averages 46 tornadoes and hundreds of
reports of large hail and wind damage each year. We cannot stop
severe storms from occurring, but there are things that everyone can
do to prepare for these inevitable forces of nature:
is a violently rotating column of air that extends from the
base of the thunderstorm cloud to the ground. Some tornadoes
cause minor damage to buildings and trees, while others can
result in complete destruction of everything in their path.
thunderstorm can produce hail 1 inch in diameter or
larger, and wind gusts around 60 mph or higher that can
result in damage to trees, structures or power lines. Severe
thunderstorm winds can be stronger, and produce more damage,
than nearly 70 percent of the tornadoes that affect
means that tornadoes or severe thunderstorms are possible,
and you need to watch the weather closely over several
means that a tornado or severe thunderstorm has been
detected by radar or has been reported by a trained storm
spotter. Seek safe shelter immediately if your location is
in the path of the storm. Warnings typically last for 30 to
[to top of second column]
; don't just rely on
sirens. Weather alert radios, local broadcasters,
weather-related Web pages, social media sites and phone apps are
a few suggestions.
sources to receive warning information
, especially at night or
Stay alert for the
latest hazardous weather information
A basement is best. If you don't have a
basement, go to the lowest possible floor in a closet or
hallway, away from windows and exterior doors. If traveling, get
to a nearby building quickly. If none is available, as a last
resort, lie flat in a ditch and protect your head.
Storm warnings are
issued for portions of counties. Know the name of the county
where you live and the counties you travel through.
If it is safe to
do so, contact family members and friends when you become
aware of a severe thunderstorm or tornado that may threaten them.
For more information about being adequately prepared for severe
weather, visit the NWS Lincoln "Severe Weather Safety" Web page at
Weather Fact Sheet
[Text from file received from National Weather Service,