Time To Gear Up For Severe Weather Season

Fri 3-27-2020

(Spirit Lake)-- This week has marked the observance of Severe Weather Awareness Week in the state of Iowa. Dickinson County Emergency Management Coordinator Mike Ehret says the primary message this year is to make sure you have multiple ways to receive watches and warnings...Mike Ehret01 

"So many times when we have severe weather go through, storms and tornadoes, you hear people say it hit without warning. Most of the time that's simply not the case. The warning was there. They just didn't get it for whatever reason. So that's really my big message this year is just make sure you have a way, multiple ways, preferably, to receive those alerts as they're issued."

And when it comes to warnings, Ehret says severe thunderstorm warnings should be treated as seriously as tornado warnings...Mike Ehret02 

"I always try to stress severe thunderstorm warnings because that means winds, you know, at or greater than 58 mph. We've had many storms come through this area in the past several years where there's been a lot of damage but generally it wasn't a tornado. It was just strong straight line winds that take down trees and take off roofs and cause all kinds of damage, so it's very important to pay attention to those warnings and take action with thunderstorm warnings, just like tornado warnings."

Another element of severe weather that can be even more deadly is lightning. Ehret says many people still aren't taking the necessary precautions when it comes to that...Mike Ehret03 

"That's what makes a thunderstorm a thunderstorm is that you have lightning and lightning is always deadly. It doesn't matter if there's a watch out or not or a warning out. You know when you see the dark clouds rolling in that's your cue to head inside. That last hole or two of golf can wait or whatever else you're doing. Just get inside, get in shelter, substantial shelter, mind you, and just wait out the storm. Typically they don't take too long. They roll through and get on their way and you can get back to whatever it was you doing before."

Ehret adds the storm spotter training sessions put on by the National Weather Service, including one scheduled for late April in Spencer, have been canceled due to COVID-19 concerns. He says they'll be offering sessions online instead.