Spring is the favorite season for some because it means warm weather is on its way.
But with the increase in temperatures there is also the potential for a rise in incidents of severe weather. To get citizens ready, Gov. Walker has declared April 17-21 as Wisconsin’s Tornado & Severe Weather Awareness Week.
Schools, businesses, families and individuals will have an opportunity to test their emergency plans during statewide tornado drills Thursday, April 20, according to a release from the Wisconsin Emergency Management office. The drills are part of the annual spring severe weather campaign to encourage everyone in Wisconsin to be ready for possible tornadoes and severe weather.
A mock tornado watch will be issued at 1 p.m. Thursday, April 20, followed by a statewide mock tornado warning at 1:45 p.m. Many radio and TV stations across the state will issue the test tornado warnings.
In addition, mock alerts will be issued on National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration weather radios and many communities will sound their tornado sirens to test their emergency severe weather plans.
Wauwatosa has one warning siren, at the Department of Public Works building at 11100 W. Walnut Road. The siren, owned by the city of Wauwatosa but maintained by Milwaukee County, will be activated during Thursday’s drill, according to Carl Stenbol, administrator of the Milwaukee County Office of Emergency Management.
A second mock tornado warning will be issued at 6:45 p.m. to give families and second-shift workers a chance to practice their emergency plans.
Wisconsin averages 23 tornadoes annually, according to the National Weather Service. Last year, there were 16 tornado touchdowns in the state.
"All of the tornadoes were either an EF-0 or EF-1," the NWS said in the release. "However, it’s not a question of if we will have a violent storm, it’s a matter of when."
The release said the tornado drill will take place even if the sky is cloudy, dark or rainy. If actual severe storms are expected in the state April 20, the tornado drills will be postponed until Friday, April 21 at the same times. If severe storms are possible Friday, the drills will be cancelled.
-Rick Romano contributed to this report