Tornado and Severe Weather Awareness Week

File:F5 tornado Elie Manitoba 2007.jpg - Wikimedia CommonsApril 8-12, 2024 was Tornado and Severe Weather Awareness Week in Wisconsin. It’s still a great time to review your plans in the event severe weather strikes.

According to the National Weather Service (NWS), Wisconsin averages 23 tornadoes per year. In 2023, the National Weather Service (NWS) confirmed 21 tornadoes in the State of Wisconsin. While spring and summer are the most active times of the year for tornadoes, they can happen in any month.


» TORNADO WATCH means conditions are right for a tornado to develop. Continue with normal activities, but continue to monitor the situation.

» TORNADO WARNING means radar or weather spotters have identified a tornado. The emergency sirens will sound a steady tone for three minutes or longer if there is danger in the immediate area. Dane County uses storm-based siren activation — that means the only sirens activated are those within the warning area determined by the National Weather Service. This provides certainty that if you hear the sirens, you are in the warning area and should take action.

In the event of a tornado warning, take the following actions:

      • Seek immediate shelter (individuals with disabilities, follow the same procedures). When the warning siren sounds, seek shelter, preferably in a basement or below-ground evacuation location. A steel-formed or reinforced concrete building will provide some protection.
      • In a multi-story building, seek shelter in an interior hallway or a lower floor.
      • Basements and interior hallways or rooms on lower floors offer good shelter.
      • If you are surrounded by debris, be aware that removing some of it can cause other debris or part of the building to collapse. If it is not safe or possible to leave the area, stay there until assisted out.

Important note: sirens will also sound when a “Destructive Thunderstorm Warning” is issued by the National Weather Service. This is a newer category of storm warning that’s issued for very strong thunderstorms with wind gusts over 80 mph.

For more information on preparing for severe weather, please visit Wisconsin Emergency Management’s website.