Severe Weather Awareness Week – Tornadoes

Statewide Iowa — This is Severe Weather Awareness Week in Iowa, and normally, in every other year, a part of that would be a statewide tornado drill. But not this year.

The Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management tells us the reason they nixed the test is really twofold. First of all, part of a tornado drill is for everyone to go to a basement or interior hallway of a structure. That sounds like a lot of people in a small space, and that’s something we’re not supposed to do with the COVID-19 virus threatening. Also, many of the people that take part in the drill are kids in schools, and with schools out right now due to the virus, the schools, teachers, students, and administrators would not benefit from a drill.

National Weather Service Warning Coordination Meteorologist Peter Rogers from the Sioux Falls office tells us that while there will be no statewide drill, people should at least talk about their plan and what to do if there were an actual tornado.

(as said:)”It is an important day none the less, and we’re really encouraging folks to talk to with your families about what they would do if there was a tornado. Where would they go? Where would they seek shelter? How much time do they need to get there? So although this year might be a little different where we’re not having people practice those plans and putting a lot of people in confined spaces, there still is an opportunity to talk through it.”

The weather service says a tornado is a rapidly rotating column of air in contact with the ground. A visible cloud is not needed for a tornado to be in progress. Some tornadoes may not appear to extend to the ground but are causing considerable damage. Tornadoes take on various shapes and sizes, and most produce winds less than 120 mph. However, a few are capable of producing winds over 200 mph. Some tornadoes are very small and last for only a minute or so, while others can be a mile wide or larger and stay on the ground for over an hour.

The weather service also reminds you to listen to, or read the entire warning so you know what to expect, as a tornado warning is issued for everything from minor tornadoes all the way up to the largest, multiple vortex tornadoes.

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