Wisconsin Tornado and Severe Weather Awareness Week is April 17-21

Spring has returned to Wisconsin and so has an increased risk of severe weather. To encourage everyone to be prepared for tornadoes, thunderstorms and flooding, Gov. Tony Evers has declared April 17-21 Tornado and Severe Weather Awareness Week in Wisconsin, along with statewide tornado drills on April 20.

“Wisconsin has already had 13 tornadoes touch down in the state this spring, showing just how important it is to be prepared for severe storms,” said Wisconsin Emergency Management Administrator Greg Engle. “WEM’s ReadyWisconsin campaign asks that everyone take just a few moments to make sure their emergency plans are updated and that everyone in their home knows what to do when a weather warning is issued.”

Wisconsin averages 23 tornadoes annually. In 2022, the National Weather Service (NWS) confirmed 28 tornadoes touched down in the state, including one in Polk County last year. These weather systems are damaging to homes, trees, power lines, and can cause injury. Tornadoes and severe storms can develop quickly, so know what to do and where to seek shelter.

To stay safe during severe weather, Polk County encourages people to do the following:

  • Create an emergency plan and practice it.
  • Know where designated shelters are located at home, work, and school, and be ready to go there when a tornado warning is issued.
  • Have multiple ways to receive alerts about approaching severe weather. Outdoor warning sirens, NOAA Weather Radios, local media, and smart phone apps are all important tools. Don’t rely on any single source for important life-saving information.
  • If you have a mobile device, make sure it is enabled to receive Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA). On many devices, that option is available in the settings menu. Find out more about WEA at https://readywisconsin.wi.gov/be-informed/be-alert/.
  • Make sure that you are registered to receive emergency weather notifications from Polk County’s CodeRED Emergency Notification System.
  • Stay weather aware by checking the daily forecast for your area.
  • Create an emergency kit for your home. Find tips for making a kit at https://readywisconsin.wi.gov.

Wisconsin’s annual statewide tornado drills will take place on April 20, 2023 at 1:45 p.m. and 6:45 p.m., offering an opportunity to practice your tornado sheltering plans. Schools, businesses, and homes are encouraged to practice going to their nearest tornado shelter during the drills, as if there were an actual tornado warning in effect. Polk County encourages all local jurisdictions to test sirens on this day. Please reach out to your local village or city to confirm local siren testing plans.

During the drill times, Wisconsin’s NWS offices will conduct NOAA Weather Radio tests that can be heard if you are actively listening to those devices or have one programmed to activate on test alerts.

If there is a threat of severe weather in Wisconsin on April 20, the statewide drills will be postponed until Friday, April 21. The drills will go on in all other conditions, including non- severe weather (clouds, rain, dark sky, scattered thunderstorms, etc.). If severe weather is also expected on Friday, the drills will be cancelled.

Notification of the drill status will be posted at http://readywisconsin.wi.gov by 10 a.m. on the morning of April 20.

Polk County utilizes the CodeRED Emergency Notification System, a high-speed telephone communication service for emergency notifications.

You can opt-in to weather alerts through the Polk County CodeRED system. It is a handy tool for always knowing what is going on at home even if you are out of the area or on vacation. Polk County encourages residents and visitors of Polk County to sign up for weather warnings using our CodeRED system; use the following link to register: https://public.coderedweb.com/CNE/en-US/BF4A225F8BED

For more tips on severe weather preparedness and advice on creating your own emergency plan, visit https://readywisconsin.wi.gov. You can also follow ReadyWisconsin on Facebook (https://facebook.com/ReadyWisconsin), Twitter (https://twitter.com/ReadyWisconsin), and Instagram (https://instagram.com/ReadyWisconsin) for tips on emergency preparedness throughout the year!