"People in Central Illinois know first-hand the dangerous power of a
tornado and how important it is to know what to do when bad weather
approaches," Gov. Blagojevich said. "Even after the March 12 tornado
moved through, destroying and damaging hundreds of homes and
businesses along its path, thousands of people were left without
power -- many for up to a week. Being prepared in advance of a
severe storm can help you both survive during the storm and better
The Governor said the Illinois Emergency
Management Agency (IEMA) and the National Weather Service (NWS) are
joining together to raise awareness of tornadoes and severe storms
during this year's Severe Weather Preparedness Week. As part of the
week, schools and businesses are encouraged to practice their severe
storm emergency plans during a statewide tornado drill that will be
held on Tuesday, March 6 at 10 a.m.
Illinois experienced a record number of tornadoes in 2006, with
124 tornadoes reported touching down throughout the state. The new
record surpassed the previous record of 120 tornadoes set in 2003.
Tornadoes last year resulted in one death and 49 injuries. On
average, Illinois sees around 41 tornadoes each year.
Weather watches and warnings from the NWS are a critical tool in
alerting people to approaching severe weather in their areas. The
NWS is working to refine its warnings so they provide people with
more specific detail about storms in their counties.
"The mission of NOAA's National Weather Service is to issue
warnings for the protection of lives and property," said Chris
Miller, warning coordinator for the NWS in Lincoln. "This spring and
summer, in northern and central Illinois, we will issue severe
thunderstorm, tornado and flash flood warnings for more specific
areas within counties. This will allow us to avoid warning
non-threatened portions of a county, so we can give the public the
most accurate description of what to expect." Miller added that
western and southern parts of Illinois will begin doing warnings in
this manner effective October 1, 2007.
Nearly 30 percent of all tornadoes in Illinois occur after dark.
For that reason, it's especially important that homes and businesses
closely monitor threatening conditions at night, particularly when
people are asleep. That's why IEMA and the NWS strongly encourage
people to have a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
Weather Radio All Hazards (NWR), a nationwide network of radio
stations broadcasting continuous weather information directly from a
nearby weather service office. NWR broadcasts warning, watches,
forecasts and other hazard information 24 hours a day. Besides
weather information, NWR also broadcasts warnings and post-event
information for all types of hazards, including natural,
environmental and public safety hazards, including such incidents as
earthquakes, chemical spills and AMBER alerts.
Many weather radios offer Specific Area Message Encoding (SAME),
which can be programmed to only alert for warnings in your specific
area. The six-digit county code for your area can be found at
www.nws.noaa.gov/nwr/indexnw.hts#sametable. It is important to
choose a weather radio with a battery back-up and tone-alert
feature. Weather radios cost between $30-$60 and are available at
many home improvement, electronics and general merchandise stores.
Besides tornadoes, spring and early summer in Illinois also
brings severe thunderstorms and flooding. Severe thunderstorms can
produce tornadoes, damaging winds, lightning, hail and heavy rain,
all of which can cause death, injuries and property damage. Since
1990, lightning has killed 26 people. In 2001, Illinois ranked
second in the nation for lightning fatalities.
While many people don't consider floods as dangerous as
tornadoes, flooding is the number one severe weather killer
nationwide. The most dangerous type of flooding is a flash flood,
which can sweep away everyone and everything in its path. Fourteen
people in Illinois have died from flash floods since 1995, and most
of the incidents occurred in vehicles.
IEMA and NWS have also developed a Severe Weather Preparedness
Guide, which contains information and tips on how to keep you and
your family safe when a storm approaches and what actions to take
following a severe storm, tornado or flood. The guide is available
on the IEMA Web site at
www.state.il.us/iema or by calling (217) 785-9888.
[to top of second column]
Some tips include:
Before bad weather
occurs, determine the best location in your home and office to
seek shelter. A basement or cellar will usually provide the best
protection. If not available, identify an interior room or
hallway with no windows on the lowest level.
When a tornado
warning has been issued, go at once to your predetermined
shelter. In a basement, go under the stairs, under a heavy piece
of furniture or a workbench. Stay there until danger has passed.
In a mobile home,
get out and seek shelter elsewhere. If there isn't a substantial
shelter nearby, seek shelter in a low-lying area and shield your
head with your hands.
In public places,
avoid areas with wide-span roofs, such as auditoriums,
cafeterias, gymnasiums and large hallways. Stay away from
Avoid using the
telephone or other electrical appliances and delay baths or
showers until the storm passes.
If outdoors, seek
shelter immediately. If you can hear thunder, you are probably
close enough to the storm to be struck by lightning.
If outside without
immediate shelter, find a low spot away from trees and power
poles where you can squat low to the ground. Make yourself the
smallest target possible.
Know how to shut
off electricity, gas and water at main switches and valves and
be prepared to do so if instructed by local authorities. Know
where gas pilots are located and how the heating system works.
Never attempt to
drive over a flooded roadway. The speed and depth of the water
is not always obvious, and portions of the road under the water
may have been washed out.
Never let children
play in or near floodwaters, flooded creeks or flood retention
The Governor's proclamation for Severe Weather Preparedness Week
reads as follows:
WHEREAS, while severe weather such as
tornadoes, thunderstorms and flooding can occur at any time of the
year in Illinois, it is particularly prevalent during the spring and
summer months; and
WHEREAS, Illinois experienced a
record-setting 124 tornadoes in 2006, which resulted in one death
and 49 injuries, as well as damaging or destroying hundreds of homes
and businesses; and
WHEREAS, the state also experienced
several severe thunderstorms during 2006, which also damaged homes
and businesses and left thousands of residents without power for up
to a week; and
WHEREAS, flooding is the number one
severe weather killer nationwide and more than a dozen people in
Illinois have died as a result of flash floods since 1995; and
WHEREAS, many storm-related deaths and
injuries can be prevent[ed] if people take the time to learn about
and follow safety measures before, during and after a storm; and
WHEREAS, some of these measures
include using a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
Weather Alert Radio, which provides round-the-clock alerts of
approaching storms for families, businesses, and gathering places;
maintaining an emergency supply kit with a flashlight, batteries,
radio, food, water and other necessities; having a predetermined
safe location where people can go during severe storms or tornadoes;
and never driving or walking on a flooded road; and
WHEREAS, a statewide tornado drill
will be held Tuesday, March 6, 2007 at 10:00 AM to encourage schools
and businesses to practice their severe storm emergency plans; and
WHEREAS, the Illinois Emergency
Management Agency and the National Weather Service are joining
together to increase public awareness of severe weather hazards in
Illinois and encourage citizens to prepare for severe weather:
THEREFORE, I, Rod R. Blagojevich,
Governor of the State of Illinois, do hereby proclaim March 4-10,
2007 as SEVERE WEATHER PREPAREDNESS WEEK in Illinois. During this
week I urge all citizens of Illinois to learn more about the dangers
of thunderstorms, tornadoes and flooding and to take steps to ensure
they are prepared to stay safe when severe weather threatens.
[Text copied from file received from
Illinois Office of
Communication and Information]