The National Weather Service, FEMA, and emergency management agencies around Wyoming are encouraging residents, businesses, schools and radio and television stations to use a tornado drill Wednesday as a time to practice severe weather safety procedures as we near the main severe weather season in Wyoming.
The spring months produce some wide-ranging weather across Wyoming, from tornadoes to snowstorms.
“Folks need to do all that they can ahead of time to ensure they have the plans and the tools to keep both themselves and their families safe should severe weather strike,” said Chad Hahn, meteorologist at the Cheyenne NWS Office. “This includes not only a planned spot of where to go at home, school or work, but also knowing where to get critical weather warning information when seconds count.”
On average, 10 tornadoes occur in Wyoming each year. Historically, two or three of those tornadoes will produce some type of property damage. Tornadoes are not the only severe thunderstorm hazard that Wyoming residents face. Lightning, hail and flash floods can be equally as devastating.
“Now is an optimal time to assess the risk in your area and make preparations to lessen the impacts from natural hazards,” Hahn said. “For instance, wildfires are as much of a concern in many parts of the state as thunderstorm-related hazards. People need to be aware and have a plan of action.”
In order to ensure statewide emergency communications and alerting capabilities are functioning properly, the NWS will issue a test tornado warning for the entire state on Wednesday, April 12, at 10:30 a.m. Broadcasters and public safety alerting points across Wyoming will be participating in the test. Schools, health care and continuing-care facilities, and other large venues, are encouraged to use the drill to test internal emergency procedures.
“We have partnered with FEMA to strongly promote the idea of people using the test warning on April 12 to actually practice what to do in case of a real emergency,” said Tim Troutman, meteorologist at the Riverton NWS office. “We would like to see people posting and sharing on social media what they did to prepare. A school tornado drill or your own family practicing going to the basement are two simple ways people can participate.”
Troutman and Hahn agree that in order to know your risk, residents should never leave home without knowing the weather forecast. Taking the three simple steps of knowing your risk, taking preparedness actions and sharing preparedness activities with others are essential in building a weather-ready nation.