Illinois Severe Weather Preparedness Week February 28 – March 6

Posted: March 4, 2010 in 1

No Tornadoes in February But Plan For Severe Weather Ahead

February 28 through March 6 is Severe Weather Preparedness Week in Illinois

This weekend I’ll be hosting the 2010 Severe Weather Seminar at Wheaton College.  The details…This will be the 19th year that DuPage County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management has been hosting the Advance Severe Weather Seminar.  The program is Friday, March 5, and Saturday, March 6, 2009 at Wheaton College.  The Friday program generally addresses topics such as preparedness, sheltering, planning, and severe weather considerations for schools, business and industry, etc and is attended by facility managers, government administrators as well as fire, police and emergency management personnel.   Saturday the vast majority of approximately 650 attendees are weather enthusiasts, spotters, amateur radio operators and emergency management staff and volunteers.  For many it is like a family reunion every year. The program agenda of speakers that have committed are NWS Chicago staff Jim Allsopp, Ed Fenelon, Andy Boxell, Nathan Marsili, Amy Seeley and Stephen Rodriguez.  Also, Mike Unsceid from NWS Dodge City, Tyler Allison and Chris Novy from FOX12 in Oklahoma City will be speaking.  Paul Sirvatka from College of DuPage always has a role in the program as well.

Severe weather season is not yet underway… and it’s been a quiet winter… especially February.  A new report cites no tornadoes were reported at all in the month of February 2010:

There were no tornadoes reported in the United States in February 2010.  Assuming that no late reports are received, it will be the first time in the National Weather Service’s database that starts in 1950 that there has been a February without a tornado.  If we include Tom Grazulis’s database of F2 and stronger tornadoes, the last time it’s possible there wasn’t a February tornado was 1947.  The last tornado reported in the US was on 24 January, in north-central Tennessee.  The last calendar month without a tornado was January 2003.

What does this tell us about the rest of the 2010 tornado season?  Somewhere between a little and nothing at all.  Most years that have started out with few tornadoes have ended up average or below.  However, there have been big exceptions.  Most notably, in 2003, we started out with no tornadoes in the first 45 days of the year.  Even as late as 29 April, it was the slowest start in the database (after adjusting for report inflation, as discussed here.) By the 11th of May, however, 2003 was well above normal following a remarkably active week. So, even though it’s been a slow start to the season, people still need to be aware of the threats that may happen later on.

What does it tell us about long-term trends? Again, essentially nothing. The large-scale atmospheric pattern that persisted over the US for the month of February was unfavorable for tornadoes. There’s nothing in the scientific literature that provides information on any changes to expect with tornadoes in the future, so the no-tornado February can’t be interpreted in that light.


NOAA Weather Radio – All Hazards and National Weather Service Web Pages

Today, a better understanding of tornadoes, new technology such as Doppler radar, faster communications, and better Skywarn storm spotting networks, allow meteorologists to provide more accurate and timely warnings for destructive tornadoes and severe storms.

But in order for the warnings to be effective, people must receive the warnings in a timely manner and take proper actions to protect themselves.

The best way to receive severe weather watches and warnings is with a tone alert NOAA Weather Radio – All Hazards. A weather radio will give you severe weather information direct from your local National Weather Service office. Watches and warnings are preceded by a tone alert that can automatically activate your radio and get your attention with a high pitched alarm – even if storms hit in the middle of the night. Newer S.A.M.E equipped radios can be programmed to only alert you to watches and warnings for a specific county, or group of counties.

In addition, the radios can alert you to a non-weather emergency such as a hazardous material spill or child abduction.

Weather radios can be purchased at many electronics and department stores for 30 to 80 dollars. They are highly recommended for homes, schools, hospitals, nursing homes, day care centers, and businesses. You should also take one along when boating or camping.


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