Severe Weather Awareness Week kicks off Monday

Last year, experts at The Weather Channel ranked Iowa No. 6 on a list of the top 10 tornado states. It had 9.2 tornados per 100,000 square miles from 1991 to 2010, averaging 51 tornadoes a year, according to National Weather Service statistics.

While there is nothing people can do to change the weather, they can prepare for it. Severe Weather Awareness Week starts Monday.

The week’s highlight will be Wednesday with a tornado watch beginning at 10 a.m. By 10:15 a.m., the watch will have progressed to a full-fledged tornado warning, said Kim Elder, Marshall County emergency management director.

The exercise, where communication center employees sound the tornado sirens, will stress preparedness and give communities that are more rural an opportunity to test their sirens, she said.

“If everyone can practice on the same day, it is good to be able to do,” Elder said.

Severe Weather Awareness Week will follow the same schedule as in years past. The following week, officials will hold a free storm spotter training from 6 to 8:30 p.m. April 3 in Marshalltown Community College’s Dejardin Hall, 3702 S. Center St

In 2012, Green Mountain city officials began working to get a tornado siren. Elder said they are still working on a grant to pay for the siren. Recently, the Times-Republican ran a story about a woman who is lobbying Melbourne to install a siren of its own.

Elder said the wind storm of 2011 brought emergency preparedness awareness to its peak. People are more aware of it than they used to be, and although the topic has petered a bit in the last couple years, it is still important that people take time each year to ensure they know the proper protocol in case of a disaster.

“If you have a hurricane or a fire, you become aware of it,” she said. “People tend not to think about it if we don’t have our weather radios or sirens going off.”

For more information, visit www.crh.noaa.gov or visit Marshall County Emergency Management’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/Marshall-County-Iowa-Emergency-Management or call 641-751-1726. To register for the storm spotter training, call Iowa Valley Continuing Education’s registration at 641-752-4645.