As we turn the page into a new month and new season – March 1st is the beginning of Meteorological Spring – we also begin to move closer to severe weather season in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin. This week is Illinois Severe Weather Preparedness week and highlights the importance of being prepared for severe weather.
Severe weather can occur any time of day, any time of year. That’s why it’s important to make sure that you have a weather safety plan in place at home, work, school, church, while on the road, etc, and to practice that plan often. Just like you would practice a fire drill, it’s also important to practice your severe weather plan.
Typically the Spring and Summer months are most favorable for severe weather in the Stateline, with a slight second peak during the Fall. Tornadoes most often occur during the months of April, May and June, but can occur any time of the year. The Poplar Grove tornado in January 2018, and the Caledonia tornado in November 2011, are just examples of ‘off season’ tornadoes that have occurred locally. The most favorable time of day for severe weather and tornadoes is typically between 3pm and 10pm, during peak heating, but can occur at any time of day. Overnight severe weather is often times the most dangerous as the flash flooding and damaging wind threat tend to be higher.
When putting together your severe weather plan, it’s important to know the different terms for severe weather – such as the difference between a watch and a warning. A WATCH means that you need to remain alert because conditions are favorable for severe weather to occur. You can continue throughout your day, but make sure you monitor the weather conditions and are prepared to seek shelter if a warning is issued. A WARNING means that severe weather is occurring, or is about to occur, and you need to act. Seek shelter immediately – ‘get in, get down, take cover’.
While we can’t prevent severe weather from occurring, or impacting our home, work or school, we can become better prepared and be ready to take the necessary actions if severe weather does occur. You can find more information about severe weather preparedness from the Chicago National Weather Service.