Severe storm season is here in the Midwest and according to The National Weather Service, Wisconsin experiences, on average, 29 Severe Thunderstorm Watches and about 11 Tornado Watches are issued annually.
Wisconsinites took shelter both Friday, July 19th and Saturday, July 20th as Upper Midwest was hit with 60-100 mph winds; calm to chaos within seconds. By Sunday morning, more than a half-million customers were without power in Wisconsin and Michigan from the double whammy.
The first step to stay safe during these heavy storms is to make sure you know the definitions of what’s to come.
Listen to radio, television, or weather alert radios for:
Tornado; A violently rotating column of air that extends from a thunderstorm to the ground and is often—although not always—visible as a funnel cloud. Lighting and hail are common in thunderstorms that produce tornadoes.
Tornado Watch; An alert issued when weather conditions favor the formation of tornadoes—often during thunderstorms
Tornado Warning; An alert issued when a funnel cloud is sighted or indicated by weather radar. Shelter should be taken immediately.
Funnel Cloud; A visible, rotating, funnel-shaped cloud that extends from a thunderstorm toward but not quite reaching the ground
Severe Thunderstorm Watch; Weather conditions suggest that severe thunderstorms are possible in the area.
Severe Thunderstorm Warning; Severe thunderstorms are occurring in the area.
Heat Lightning; Lightning from a thunderstorm too far away to be heard
Straight Line Winds; Any wind generated by a thunderstorm that is not associated with rotation and can be considered severe if the winds exceed 58 mph. Damage from straight-line winds occurs in the same general direction due to lack of rotational wind
Wall Cloud; An isolated, often abrupt, lowering of a cloud that develops beneath the base of a thunderstorm. It is always rain-free and usually exists for 10-20 minutes before a tornado appears. A wall cloud may also persistently rotate.
Flash Flooding; Flooding that begins within 6 hours, and often within 3 hours, of the heavy rainfall (or other cause).
- In tornado weather: Stay away from windows, doors and outside walls. Protect your head.
- Keep calm, always.
- If outside, with no time to reach a safe building or vehicle, avoid open concept, stay away from wire fences, clotheslines or metal pipes. Go to the lowest place possible but be alert of flash flood warnings.
- Heavy overpasses are NOT tornado shelters, and these should be avoided.
- Be prepared for power outages. For more information on power outages, click here.