Severe Weather Awareness Week in Wisconsin
This week has been designated as Tornado and Severe Weather Awareness Week in Wisconsin. It's an opportunity to familiarize yourself with the difference between a watch and a warning, know what types of weather to prepare for during the spring and summer, and make a plan for you and your family if and when severe weather strikes.
What's the difference between a watch & warning?
Many people get confused between the difference between a watch and warning. Which is worse? What should I be doing if one is issued?
A watch means that conditions are favorable for severe weather, but severe weather may not be actively occurring. When a watch is issued you should go about your life, but make sure you are keeping a close eye to the weather. Listen to local radio, turn on CBS58, check the CBS58 Weather App and make sure you have a way to receive warnings should they be issued.
A warning means that severe weather is actively ongoing or imminent. When a warning is issued you should stop what you are doing and begin following your severe weather plan. In a severe thunderstorm warning that means going inside and staying away from windows and doors. In a tornado warning that means going indoors and moving to an interior spot in your basement. If no basement is available, move to an interior room on the lowest floor. Check out What Not to Do in a Tornado to find out what to do if traveling in a car.
What makes a storm severe?
Wisconsin sees plenty of thunderstorms during the spring and summer, but most are not severe. You will still want to head indoors during a non-severe storm due to the dangers of lightning. What makes a storm severe is what that storm is capable of; hail at or above 1" in diameter (the size of quarter), wind gusts above 60 mph (enough to do damage) or tornadoes satisfy the criteria to make a storm severe.
Have a plan!
The best way to prepare yourself for severe weather, including tornadoes, is to have a plan.
Your plan should include:
- A way to receive weather warnings. TV, radio and phone apps are all great ways to stay informed during severe weather. Remember that tornado sirens are only designed to warn people outdoors, not those sitting at home.
- A safe place to go during a tornado warning. This is especially important if you don't have a basement. Make sure everyone in your family knows what this safe place is so they can go there immediately after a warning is issued.
- Have a safety kit that includes water, food, batteries, flashlights, whistle, first aid, etc and keep it in your safe place in case you need to be down there for hours. Here is what the American Red Cross recommends you carry in your safety kit.
Cheers to warmer weather and staying safe this season!
I'm meteorologist Rebecca Schuld