Today (Monday) marks the beginning of Severe Weather Awareness Week in the state. National Weather Service meteorologist, Jeff Johnson says there weren’t many tornadoes in 2011. “In Iowa, we had what I would call a pretty normal year. We had 51 tornadoes, we average 47, that’s pretty close to normal,” Johnson says. “What was interesting about last year though, was that most of those tornadoes occurred on or before April ninth, so many of those tornadoes were early in the year in 2011.”
Johnson says it is too early to tell what type of year 2012 will bring for severe weather. “A lot of people have been talking about the recent warm weather and if there is a correlation between that and active severe weather, and there really isn’t much of a correlation between an active severe weather season and the early spring warmth,” Johnson says. He says there’s also not much of a correlation between a warm summer after a warm spring. The National Weather Service has special theme days all week to teach Iowans the dangers of severe weather.
Johnson says the theme for today is flash flooding. “Which is the number one thunderstorm-related killer in the United States from weather, it’s not tornadoes, it’s actual flash flooding,” according to Johnson. He says Tuesday will talk about how to get a warning, Wednesday’s theme centers on tornadoes and there will be a statewide tornado drill, and finally, family preparedness is the theme on Friday.
Johnson describes the tornado drill scheduled for 10 a-m Wednesday morning: He says they will come out with a tornado watch at 10 and that will last for about an hour. “And then at about 10:15, give or take a few minutes, we will issue a tornado warning and it will go off over your weather radios, it will go out over the emergency alert system to the radio stations and many, many communities will be testing their siren systems at the same time,” Johnson says. He says this will be a good time for businesses to test their evacuation plans. You can find out more information on severe weather in Iowa at www.weather.gov.
(Pat Powers & Dar Danielson/Radio Iowa)