This is Severe Weather Awareness Week in Wisconsin and Minnesota

The National Weather Service, along with the Homeland Security and Emergency Management offices in Minnesota and Wisconsin have designated the week of April 20-24, 2009 as Severe Weather Awareness/Tornado and Severe Weather Awareness Week, in their respective states.   This is a great time to get educated about the dangers of severe weather, and it is encouraged to go over safety plans to prepare yourself for when severe weather strikes.

In order to prepare for the severe weather season, statewide tornado drills will take place on Thursday afternoon, between 1 pm and 2 pm.  These practice watches and warnings may be treated as the real thing, and is therefore a great opportunity to practice what you would do if faced with life-threatening severe weather.  There will also be a tornado drill conducted Thursday evening, at 6:55 pm, but only for participating counties in Minnesota.  In the local area, the counties involved in this evening tornado drill will be Wabasha, Olmsted, Winona, and Mower.

**Should severe weather be present anywhere within Minnesota and Wisconsin on the day of the drill, the test watch and warnings will be postponed until Friday.

There will be themes being highlighted throughout the week, which include:

  • Monday:   Severe Thunderstorms
  • Tuesday:   Products Issued by the National Weather Service
  • Wednesday:   Flash Flooding
  • Thursday:   Tornadoes
  • Friday:   NOAA All Hazards Weather Radio

Please check out our Severe Weather Awareness Page to get important information about the above topics, along with other information to prepare yourself for the severe weather season. 

Other links that may be of interest:


Today's topic is Severe Thunderstorms

A severe thunderstorm is defined as one which produces one of three things...

  • A peak wind gust of 58 mph or higher
  • Hail 1 inch or larger, or
  • a Tornado

The National Weather Service Issues Severe Thunderstorm Warnings when thunderstorms are expected to produce those dangerous wind gusts or large hail.

Strong thunderstorm wind gusts, also known as straight line wind, is the most common type of severe weather.  At speeds around 58 mph, wind gusts can knock down trees and large branches, they can topple light weight objects, or can start to produce damage to homes, hence becoming life-threatening. 

A down-burst is a localized area of extreme wind damage.  Often times people assume they were hit by a tornado after a down-burst, but the damage is usually spotty and spread out.

Large hail is also fairly common with severe thunderstorms.  Usually hail is a large property damage concern, but can become life-threatening if caught outdoors.  The La Crosse National Weather Service Office raised the hail criteria for severe thunderstorm warnings from 3/4 inch hail to 1 inch hail on April 1, 2009.

The best rule of thumb during a severe thunderstorm is to move indoors.  Stay away from windows.  If driving, you may want to find a rest stop or shelter until the storms pass.  Stay informed and listen for watches and warnings.

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