Statewide tornado drills gets you prepared for the event of severe weather

MILWAUKEE -- It's not the question of if but when a tornado will strike. All across the state on Thursday, April 12 sirens were blaring as emergency officials work to test emergency readiness.

"We're right at the beginning of the peak period for severe weather in Wisconsin," said Tim Halbach, with the National Weather Service (NWS). "So kind of dusting off our plans, making sure that everyone knows what to do when a tornado warning gets issued."

Thursday afternoon, your local municipality -- and the National Weather Service -- teamed up to get the message out all across the state.

"Warmer we get the more likely it is we'll start to see these types of storms," Halbach said.

From the NWS's office in Dousman, the test sirens and alerts were sent out for the area. The goal: to keep you safe and get you ready for the weather to come.

"Where's your shelter, where do you go when a tornado comes, just kind of thinking about what you need to do on those days when severe weather occurs," said Halbach.

Tim Halbach

Meteorologists aren't sure what kind of weather this spring southeastern Wisconsin -- but bad tornadoes do hit. In 1996, a violent F-5 tornado struck Oakfield, but the most recent twister was back in 2014, when an EF-3 hit Verona.

"It's hard to say exactly how much severe weather you can get in a season, but all it really takes is one bad event for things to go awry," said Halbach.

Many radio and TV stations across the state will issue the test tornado warnings. In addition, mock alerts will be issued on NOAA Weather Radios and many communities will sound their tornado sirens to test their emergency severe weather plans.

1:00 p.m. – National Weather Service issues a mock tornado watches for all of Wisconsin (a watch means tornadoes are possible in your area.  Remain alert for approaching storms).
1:45 p.m. - National Weather Service issues mock tornado warning for all of Wisconsin (A warning means a tornado has been sighted or indicated on weather radar.  Move to a safe place immediately).
2:00 p.m. – End of 1:45 p.m. mock tornado warning drill 
6:45 p.m. – National Weather Service issues a mock tornado warning for all of Wisconsin.
7:00 p.m. – End of 6:45 p.m. mock tornado warning drill. The tornado drills will take place even if the sky is cloudy, dark, and/or rainy.  If actual severe storms are expected in the state on Thursday, April 12, the tornado drills will be postponed until Friday, April 13 with the same times.  If severe storms are possible Friday, the drills will be cancelled.