Meteorologists have warned that 2017 could rank among the top three years for tornadoes in recent history. With that being said, we would like provide everyone advice on how to make certain families are safe should a twister occur.
The peak tornado season in Wisconsin is May through August, with June having the greatest number of tornadoes. A record-setting 62 tornadoes occurred in 2005, while 2012 experienced only four. Last year, there were 16 tornadoes reported in the state, including seven in northeastern Wisconsin.
The “average” Wisconsin tornado has a seven- to 10-minute duration, a path length of four to six miles and a damage width of about 120 yards.
Another hazard of the warm-season is powerful, straight-line thunderstorm winds that can exceed 60 mph. Every year, Wisconsin will get a few storms that generate hurricane-force winds of at least 75 to 100 mph. Large hail is also a hazard with thunderstorms.
Tornadoes can occur any time of the year, like the Jan. 7, 2008, twister near Kenosha. Yet, the peak tornado season in Wisconsin is April to August, which is why Gov. Scott Walker designated April 17-21 as Wisconsin Tornado and Severe Weather Awareness Week.
Able to reach speeds of 300 mph, tornadoes are the most devastating local storms that occur in the world, which is why we must take them seriously. Emergency officials tell us if a tornado is sighted, take cover no matter where one is. The best shelter is on the lowest level of a building away from windows and doors. When possible, get beneath sturdy furniture, protecting one’s head and chest.
If one is in a public building, stay there – look for smaller rooms such as a closet, restroom or storeroom. Don’t run for a car, since one is generally safe inside a structure than out in the open.
Keep a battery-powered light and radio handy and hold on to one’s car keys. Should a tornado hit, the car still might be operable but the keys could be lost in the rubble. If one is already in a car or a mobile home, leave them and find shelter in a building. If there is none nearby, it’s safer to lie flat in the nearest ravine, ditch or culvert with arms over one’s head. Keep alert for flash floods that often accompany such storms.
Twisters typically travel from the southwest to the northeast, but not always – they can change direction at any moment, and they do.
There are a couple of other myths we should clear up now: First, tornadoes will cross rivers and travel down valleys. Rain and hail might occur in one place and the actual tornado might be in another. And people should not take the time to open windows to relieve air pressure in a house. Too many people have been hurt or killed by exploding windows if they attempt to open them before taking shelter.
While last week was “Tornado and Severe Weather, we all should be conscious of the devastation these storms can cause each and every day. In the coming months when the National Weather Service sets a tornado or thunderstorm watch or warning, take it seriously. Keep up to date on what’s going on outside and, if necessary, take shelter.
We’ve all seen, at least on television and in the newspaper, the heartache tornadoes can cause and how homes can become kindling in mere seconds. It is terrifying.
However, a house can be rebuilt – families cannot. So please, if weather conditions are right for a twister, follow the above precautions and take the potential disaster seriously. After all, a tornado warning is no good if one doesn’t listen to it.