Oskaloosa.com

March 20, 2013

Severe weather awareness week coming up

MATT MILNER
CNHI

OTTUMWA — It's hard to believe with today's weather (that groundhog is in hot water with a lot of people), but severe weather season is right around the corner.

Next week is Iowa's severe weather awareness week. Each year the state asks people to brush up on their knowledge of severe weather and how to respond to it.

Last year wasn't bad in terms of Iowa's experience with damaging storms. After a fast start in 2012, the last of 16 Iowa tornadoes touched down May 24. The number was down by 68.6 percent from the prior year, enough for even seasoned meteorologists to take note.

No one is predicting a repeat of last year. And, since the major reason for the lack of storms was the drought, most people aren't hoping for a repeat.

Monday kicks off the week with one of the most lethal forms of severe weather: Flash flooding. And there's a critical difference with flash floods compared to most forms of severe weather. Almost half of the fatalities can be avoided by simply not driving into a flooded area.

Tuesday will focus on how to receive warnings about severe weather, while Wednesday is tornado day. Severe storms are the focus on Thursday and Friday is aimed at family safety.

The National Weather Service's Des Moines office has pdf files for each day available for download from its website. There's no absolute guarantee of safety in severe weather, but knowing how to respond can improve the chances of making the right decisions.