|Fort McCoy will participate in a mock statewide tornado
watch/drill Thursday, April 19 as part of Tornado and Severe Weather
Awareness Week activities/events April 16-20 for the peak Tornado season
April to August.
Tornado safety at
home, work, or play
• In a home or building, avoid
windows. Move to a basement and get under a sturdy table or the
stairs. A specially-constructed “safe room” within a building
offers the best protection. Use an Internet search engine and
search for “safe room” for more information.
• If a basement is not available, move to a small interior room
or hallway on the lowest floor and cover yourself with anything
close at hand: towels, blankets, pillows. If possible, get under
a sturdy table, desk or counter. Put as many walls as possible
between you and the storm.
• If caught outdoors, seek shelter in a sturdy building. If a
shelter isn’t available nearby, get into a vehicle, buckle
seatbelts and drive to the closest sturdy shelter. If flying
debris occurs while driving, pull over and park. Now there are
two options as a last resort:
— Stay in the vehicle with the seatbelt on and place your head
below the windows.
— If it’s possible to safely get noticeably lower than the
roadway, exit the vehicle and lie in that area, covering your
head with your hands. Do not seek shelter under an overpass.
• Mobile homes, even if tied down, offer little protection from
tornadoes. Evacuate mobile homes and go to the designated storm
shelter or the lowest floor of a sturdy nearby building.
• At school, follow the drill. Go to the interior hall or room.
Crouch low, head down and protect the back of your head with
your arms. Stay away from windows and large open rooms like gyms
Quentin Graham, Emergency Management specialist for the Fort McCoy
Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security, said the
drill will begin at 1 p.m. April 19. Tornado warning sirens will be
tested about 1:45 p.m.
In the event of actual severe weather, the tornado drill will be
postponed until Friday, April 20 at the same time.
Television viewers, radio station and emergency radio listeners will
hear a message indicating that “this is a test.” The drill will be a
true, end-to-end test that interrupts broadcast radio, television, cable
stations and provides tone-alerting over the NOAA (National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration) Weather Radios, or Emergency Weather Radios.
“This is a historic first in Wisconsin as the tornado warning will last
about one minute across the whole state and Minnesota at the same time
and be broadcast on radio and television stations,” Graham said. “Fort
McCoy also will test its emergency weather warning system at the same
time (about 1:45 p.m.), which is a good time for Fort McCoy
organizations to practice and review their emergency plans.”
On May 22, 2011, one of the deadliest tornados in U.S. history struck
Joplin, Mo., directly killing 159 people and injuring more than 1,000
despite tornado warnings. The massive Enhanced Fujita Scale-5 tornado
had winds exceeding 200 mph. On the same day, tornados struck and caused
damage in La Crosse, Sparta and Tomah.
A National Weather Service study on the Joplin tornado revealed
important lessons learned:
A majority of residents did not immediately seek shelter when tornado
warnings were issued.
People needed between two and nine risk signals to take action and seek
shelter. For example, if they heard the sirens going off they would look
in the sky, then go to a TV to get information and then call a friend,
The time it took between the warning and the search for confirmation of
risk cost lives.