April 24, 2024

Severe Weather Week is March 25-29

The week of March 25 has been designated as Severe Weather Awareness Week in Iowa by the National Weather Service, FEMA, Iowa Homeland Security and Iowa emergency management agencies.

Recognized annually, the week provides Iowans an opportunity to review hazards of severe weather, with each day of the week focusing on a different severe weather event. Iowans can also take the time to practice their plans for shelter, and increase their awareness ahead of any severe weather. The following are what each weekday focuses on this year:

Monday - lightning

“Lightning is the most common thunderstorm hazard, striking the United States 25 million times each year. Annually, lightning kills about 20 people in the United States, with hundreds more severely injured. Remember, when thunder roars go indoors or when you see a flash, dash inside,” said the National Weather Service in Des Moines in a press release.

Tuesday - tornadoes

“On average, 50 tornadoes are recorded in Iowa each year. The least likely thunderstorm hazard also carries the greatest potential impact. This is why every Tornado Warning should be taken seriously,” said the release.

Wednesday - preparedness

“The statewide tornado drill at 10 a.m. will be started with a special weekly test of NOAA Weather Radio, and this is a great time for Iowans to practice their severe weather plans whether at home, work, or school.”

Thursday - hail and wind safety

“Severe thunderstorms are defined as containing wind gusts of 58 mph or higher and/or hail of 1 inch diameter or greater. Although occurrences can be any month of the year, they most typically occur April through July.”

Friday - flash floods

“Flash floods [are] the leading cause of severe weather related deaths. Anytime you encounter flooding, remember “turn around, don’t drown.”

The National Weather Service additionally encourages using Severe Weather Awareness Week to review your plans on what to do when severe weather strikes as Iowa’s weather season beings.

Local preparedness efforts

Osceola police chief Marty Duffus reminded the public of two important terms to be mindful of during the months when severe weather is most likely to happen - a weather watch and a weather warning.

“Two important terms apply to spring and summer severe weather. The first term is watch. A weather watch means that conditions are favorable to have severe weather. It does not mean that severe weather is occurring or is imminent. We do not set off the sirens for a watch condition.

“The most important term of course, is warning. When a warning is issued, it means severe weather, either tornado, hail or high winds, has occurred or is expected to occur here. When a tornado warning is issued by the National Weather Service for Osceola, the sirens are activated and will blow for three minutes. After three minutes they shut down.

“If we haven’t received the weather yet but the warning still exists for us, we will again activate the sirens to blow. Unfortunately, our sirens do not have an all-clear tone. Therefore, it is important for you to keep abreast of weather alerts by using our free NIXLE notification service and to news and weather reports on either radio or television,” said Duffus.

Interested persons can sign up for NIXLE by texting 50213 to 888777 for text alerts, or visiting www.nixle.com and setting up an account for email alerts. Another option to stay in tune for the potential of severe weather is to sign up for Alert Iowa by visiting Smart911′s website - https://www.smart911.com/ - and follow the instructions.

The public is reminded that outdoor warning sirens are intended to notify those who are working outside or doing recreational activities to seek shelter and look at other forms of communication. People indoors should rely on other methods of communication such as radio, TV, weather radios, weather apps or other notification apps as opposed to just the outdoor warning sirens.

Weekly tornado siren testing has begun every Thursday at 9 a.m.

Resources

In addition to NIXLE and Alert Iowa, Ready.gov offers free tips for different disaster and emergency situations, which can be found at: https://www.ready.gov/be-informed. The National Weather Service’s website, https://www.weather.gov/ also offers educational resources. Clarke County Emergency Management’s Facebook page provides local updates for weather year-round.

Candra Brooks

A native of rural Union County, Candra holds a Bachelor's Degree in English from Simpson College and an Associate's Degree in Accounting from SWCC. She has been at the Osceola newspaper since October 2013, working as office manager before transitioning to the newsroom in spring 2022.