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Wyoming communities to sound tornado warning sirens as part of Wednesday drills

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CASPER, Wyo. — Wyoming communities may be sounding their local warning sirens as part of tornado drills scheduled for Wednesday, May 12. Some schools around the state will also be conducting safety drills for students on Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service in Riverton.

The NWS in Riverton will also be conducting a special test of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Weather Radio weekly broadcast which will serve as a tornado drill. That will occur at around 9 am Wednesday.

“The drill is designed to allow emergency services organizations, schools and the public to test their severe weather plan and better educate the public involving how to respond to a tornado warning,” the NWS in Riverton says. “You should use this special NOAA Weather Radio test as your tornado drill and it is encouraged that you treat this like a real event so that you can test your safety plan.”  

“It is also encouraged that you further become familiar with safety rules and make plans to protect yourself and your family when storms develop. If an actual tornado warning was issued, it means a tornado has been sighted or indicated on radar and people should take shelter immediately. Tornado warnings are disseminated through NOAA weather radio, local television and radio stations, cable television systems, and outdoor warning sirens.”

The drills are planned as part of central and western Wyoming’s 2021 “Severe Weather Awareness Week” which is from Monday through Friday.

“It is the National Weather Service’s mission to protect life and property and during this week NWS Riverton will be stressing the importance of severe weather safety and the importance of preparing and planning for various natural disasters that impact Wyoming,” the NWS in Riverton says. “Having a practiced plan ahead of time can make the difference between life and death.”

The NWS in Riverton say they will focus on different types of severe weather each day this week:

  • Monday, May 10: Severe Storms (Large Hail and damaging Winds)
  • Tuesday, May 11: Lightning Safety
  • Wednesday, May 12:  Tornado Safety and Special Tornado Drill at 9 AM MDT.
  • Thursday, May 13: Flood Safety
  • Friday, May 14: Fire Weather

The NWS in Riverton shared tips for people to be prepared in the event of severe weather. They suggest people ask themselves the following questions in developing a plan for emergency situations:

What is your risk for a natural disaster?  Do you live in a flood prone area? Knowing your risk can help you develop a plan tailored to your family.

Where do you go in case of a natural disaster?  Is it a basement such as during a tornado, or to higher ground during a flash flood?

Do you have a designated meeting place for your family if you get separated? During a natural disaster, phone service might be disrupted, and getting in contact with loved ones might be difficult.

What would you do if basic services such as water, gas, electricity, or telephones were cut off?  Having an emergency supply kit in your home and car is essential.  It is recommended that you keep enough supplies in your home to meet your needs for at least 3 days.  After a natural disaster, it could take a while for emergency responders to reach your location.

How will you be notified of a natural disaster? What about at night?

The NWS in Riverton also detailed a “Ready, Set, Go” mindset they encourage people to develop:

Ready: At this stage, the National Weather Service sees something on the horizon that may end up being a widespread severe weather event in the future. The Hazardous Weather Outlooks and Situation Reports issued by the local NWS offices will give you this information. Also, the Storm Prediction Center issues thunderstorm outlooks that give an idea of where severe thunderstorms may develop in the next 8 days. At this stage, you should make sure your emergency plan and supply kit are up-to-date.

Set: In this stage, we are confident that a hazardous weather event will occur, but are not sure of the exact timing, location, or impact of the event. For severe thunderstorms and tornadoes, a Watch is issued to give the public a heads up that they need to be prepared for the possibility of severe weather within the next 8 hours. At this stage you should keep abreast on the latest weather conditions, and be ready to implement your emergency plan at a moments notice.

Go: When we hit this stage, we are confident that a thunderstorm will be soon producing severe weather and at this point a Warning will be issued. The lead time can be just precious minutes out to an hour. At this stage, you should activate your emergency plan.

The NWS in Riverton said that people can also find guidance in developing preparedness plans from the following agencies:

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