The Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management Division along with the National Weather Service have declared the week of Monday, March 24-Friday, March 28, as 2014 Severe Weather Awareness Week.

Severe Weather Awareness Week is an annual even to remind Iowans that severe weather is a part of living in our state and that understanding the risks and how to respond to them can save lives.

The National Weather Service states that Northeast Iowa typically has between 40 and 50 severe thunderstorms annually. To better understand severe weather, the NWS will be broadcast varied topics throughout the week on the area All-Hazard radio station. Daily topics include:

Monday: Flash flooding. Flash flooding is the most deadly thunderstorm threat in the United States. Never drive into a flooded area

Tuesday: Warning reception. Over the years, the ways to get hazardous weather warnings have changed. Today, we will focus on how to get a warning. Do you know how to get a warning?

Wednesday: Today is tornado day. In 2011, over 500 people died in the United States from tornados. Do you know where the safest place is in your home or car?

         10:00AM- Storm Prediction Center issues Test Tornado Watch for Iowa and Nebraska. Each Iowa/Nebraska NWS office will issue test Watch Coordination Notification messages. Test watch will be toned alerted on NOAA All-Hazards Radio and sent through the Emergency Alert System (EAS) as a test message.

10:30-10:35 AM - All Iowa NWS offices issues a Severe Weather Statement to terminate the test warnings.

         11:00 AM - Test tornado watch expires.

If severe weather threatens on Wednesday - March 26th, the test will be conducted on Thursday, March 27, at the same time.

Thursday - This is severe thunderstorm day.  Hundreds of severe thunderstorms hit Iowa each year.  Did you know severe thunderstorms can be as dangerous as tornadoes? 

Friday - Family Preparedness. Learn about family safety from natural and manmade hazards.

The E-911 Dispatch Center and Winneshiek County Emergency Management Agency want to remind all Winneshiek County residents that the outdoor warning sirens  are just that; they are meant to alert people outside. There is no guarantee that any siren in any community will be heard inside a structure. Winds, indoor activities such as radio or TVs will vary the effectiveness of hearing a siren inside a building.

The sirens are blown by the E-911 dispatch center for Severe Weather, Major Hazardous Chemical releases, and for tests. The criteria for Severe Weather alerting is for winds in excess of 70 miles per hour and/or golf-ball size hail or larger (1.75 inches in diameter or greater). Tornado or funnel cloud aloft spotted by ground observers or detected by NWS radar will also cause a Warning alert.

Emergency Management Director Bruce Goetsch stated “The sirens sound to alert people outside to seek shelter and tune radio and TVs to area stations for further weather information and warnings”. Jon Pankow, E-911 Support Services Administrator, reminds residents that “the sirens are not used for ALL CLEAR. Information that the severe weather threat has ended and it is safe to leave a shelter will come from radio/TV stations or the All-Hazards Radio broadcasts.”

There are many modes of receiving weather statements and warnings today. Smart phones may have aps from area television stations; any radio station whether AM or FM is part of the EBS (Emergency Broadcast System) and will break into current programming to broadcast watches or warnings.

For further information on how your local siren may be sounded for purposes other than weather warnings or tests, contact the City Clerk of your community.

For more information, contact Jon Pankow – E-911 at 382-3667 or Bruce Goetsch – WCEMA at 387-4095.