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Tornado and Severe Summer Weather

TornadoWisconsin averages 23 tornadoes a year.  While we are not part of "tornado alley," it is one of the greatest risks to life and property in the state. It's not just tornadoes that cause destruction - other severe weather including thunderstorms and high winds occur more frequently.

Some municipalities have outdoor warning sirens.  The purpose of the siren is to alert people outdoors that are within hearing of the siren that something is happening.  You should go indoors and find a news source so you can take appropriate action. Tornadoes and severe storm can occur at night when you are indoors. The best way to protect yourself and your family is to purchase an All Hazards NOAA Alert Radio to stay informed about the latest watches, warnings, and advisories. The battery back-up will keep you informed even when you lose power.

Tornado Safety
  • Go immediately to the basement, storm cellar, or lowest level of the building
  • If there is no basement, go to a small inner room such as a bathroom or closet
  • If in a mobile home, get out and find shelter elsewhere
  • Avoid places with wide-span roofs, such as auditoriums, cafeterias, large hallways, and shopping malls
  • Get away from windows
  • Go to the center of the room; corners tend to attract debris
  • Get under a piece of sturdy furniture, such as a workbench or heavy table, and hold on to it
  • Use arms to protect head and neck
  • If shelter is not available, lie flat in a ditch, ravine or low-lying area and use arms to protect head and neck. Beware of a potential for flooding.
When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!
Normally you can hear thunder, the sound made by a flash of lightning, about 10 miles from a lightning strike.  Since lightning can strike outward 10 miles from a thunderstorm, if you hear thunder you are likely within striking distance from the storm.  It is a good idea to wait 30 minutes or more after the rain ends before resuming outdoor activities.
Safe Buildings and Vehicles:
A safe building is one that is fully enclosed with a roof, walls and floor, such as a home, school, office building or a shopping center. Even inside, you should take precautions. A safe vehicle is enclosed, metal-topped, with windows up.  Do not touch any metal surfaces or electronic devices.  Emergency officials should use extreme caution using radio equipment when lightning is in the area.
Last Resort Outdoor Risk Reduction Tips:
Never shelter under an isolated tree or use a cliff or rocky overhang for shelter.
Immediately get out and away from bodies of water
Stay away from objects that conduct electricity (wire fences, power lines, windmills, etc.)

These dangers often accompany thunderstorms:
• Flash Floods: Number ONE weather killer - 146 deaths annually
• Lightning: Kills 75-100 people each year
• Damaging Straight-line Winds: Can reach 140 mph
• Large Hail:causes several hundred million dollars in damage annually to property and crops