NWS weather graphic.

As part of Severe Weather Awareness Week, Iowans are urged to take part in this morning’s statewide tornado drill.

Meteorologist Alex Krull, at the National Weather Service in metro Des Moines, says with the number of deadly tornadoes that have already hit Iowa in recent weeks, he hopes people will take this drill very seriously, wherever they are at 10 a.m. today.

“Get your plan into action and practice executing your plan in the event severe weather strikes — which will likely be happening at some point this spring and summer,” Krull says. “Keep in mind, where are the best places to go in your own home, in your businesses or your school.”

We’ve heard stories from survivors of the March 5th tornadoes that tore through the Winterset area who rode out the powerful storm in their basements, but that’s not always an option for everyone.
“If you don’t have a basement available to you, get to the lowest level floor of the building that is available and try to get to the center of it, particularly any room that has multiple interior walls,” Krull says. “A lot of times, it’s going to end up being a bathroom or a closet, something that puts as many walls between you and the outdoors as possible.”

The annual statewide tornado drill will take place at the traditional time of 10 o’clock this morning, but the methods for issuing the alert have shifted. “We will no longer be doing the test tornado warning like we’ve done in years past,” Krull says. “Rather, we’ll use things like social media to get the warning out and other various communications methods that we have with law enforcement and other core partners.”

The derecho that hit Iowa on December 15th spawned a record 61 tornadoes, the highest number ever recorded in a single day in Iowa. The storms on March 5th spun off ten tornadoes across the state which claimed seven lives and destroyed or damaged dozens of homes.

“The tornado drill is always an important drill for Iowans and anyone in the Midwest to go through every year, just given the frequency of severe weather,” Krull says. “Given the notable tornado outbreaks we’ve had in the past six months here in the state of Iowa, definitely will have a little more attention to it than it may have had in past years.”

Learn more about today’s drill and this awareness week at www.weather.gov/dmx.