GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) — Wisconsin, on average, has about 23 tornadoes a year, according to the National Weather Service. In 2021, there were 41 confirmed tornadoes across the state. While spring and summer remain the most active months, severe weather can happen at any time.
April 4-8 has been designated as “Severe Weather & Tornado Awareness Week” across the state of Wisconsin. Statewide drills are planned for Thursday, but in the meantime being prepared is key.
“It’s really when we flip the switch from winter to severe weather season,” said Kurt Kotenberg, the Warning Coordination Meteorologist for the National Weather Service (NWS) in Green Bay.
All week long the goal is to make you start thinking about a potential worst-case scenario.
“It’s taking that time to know where your shelter locations are, taking your time to know when you should be moving, what you should be watching for,” said Paula Reider, Emergency Management Director for Outagamie County.
In fact, experts say preparedness begins with a simple morning routine.
Kotenberg said it’s as simple as taking a minute in the morning to look at the full forecast. He also suggests you should think of three things: where you’ll be, how you’ll get information about severe weather, and what you will do to find a safe place.
“Just get into a habit every day, (and) starting this week, is a great time to do that,” Kotenberg added.
A common myth is when you hear those outdoor sirens. They are actually designed to be only heard while outdoors and not necessarily inside your home. That’s why meteorologists suggest you have something like a weather radio that is programmed and ready to go.
Of course, tornadoes can happen at any time, however, the NWS says most happen between 4 and 9 p.m. That is what we recently saw with severe weather in the south.
Another great suggestion is making sure your whole family knows what the plan is.
“Talk about it with your children because sometimes your children are at home while you’re at work, especially during the summer months, especially if they’re old enough to stay by themselves, do they know what to do? do they know where to go?” Reider said.
It’s all about having a conversation and planning now before it’s too late.
“Severe weather can affect our state in any month,” Reider reminded.
The statewide drill is happening twice on Thursday, April 7 at 1:45 p.m. and again at 6:45 p.m. Depending on where you live, you may or may not hear the siren sound. If severe weather is expected on Thursday, the testing will be delayed until Friday, April 8.
Meteorologists suggest you have other ways to get information about severe weather, rather than just from a traditional TV or radio station outlet. That includes having weather apps on your phone with push notifications turned on, an NOAA weather radio, or following along certain sites on social media.
You can find more information about what the state does to prepare for things like tornadoes on its ReadyWisconsin.gov website.
In addition, you can sign-up for text and email alerts from many local counties for things like severe weather, or other emergencies. All of that information is also made available online on those individual county websites.
Here is a good toolkit of everything you need for tornadoes and thunderstorms.