Severe weather season in Michigan is just around the corner, and ahead of that, a coordinated effort to help prepare residents is being held.

A voluntary statewide tornado drill will take place in many communities across Michigan on Wednesday, March 23 at 1:00 p.m.. It comes during the middle of Severe Weather Awareness week which this year is taking place between March 20 and March 26.

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The Michigan State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division (MSP/EMHSD) is calling on residents to participate.

“Last summer in Michigan, we saw the devastating impacts of severe weather, from flooding to tornadoes and straight-line winds,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. “Taking steps to prepare now can protect your home, your family and your pets. We ask that all Michiganders do their part to keep our communities safe.”

Businesses, organizations, families, and individuals are encouraged to engage in this preparedness activity but are not required to do so. Check with your village, city, or township officials or your local emergency management agency to see if they are planning to participate by sounding sirens.

During the drill residents will observe or hear alerts on NOAA Weather radios as well as on local television and radio stations.

“With an average of 15 tornadoes each year, this is a very real threat to our Michigan communities,” said Col. Joe Gasper, state director of Emergency Management and Homeland Security and director of the Michigan State Police. “This drill will give people a chance to make a plan and put it to the test. By planning now, you can be better prepared when a disaster happens.”

The average lead time for tornadoes to develop is 10 to 15 minutes, which means residents need to be ready to react quickly when a tornado warning is issued.

Tips on how to be ready for a tornado:

  • Know the difference: Tornado Watch means conditions exist for a tornado to develop; Tornado Warning means a tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar.
  • Know the signs of an approaching tornado: dark, often greenish sky; large hail; a large, dark low-lying cloud; and loud roar, like a freight train.
  • Develop an emergency preparedness kit with essential items such as a three-day supply of water and food, a NOAA Weather Radio, important family documents and items that satisfy unique family needs.
  • Conduct regular tornado drills. Make sure each household member knows where to go and what to do in the event of a tornado.
  • Stay tuned to commercial radio or television broadcasts for news on changing weather conditions or approaching storms.

For more information about how to keep you and your family safe before, during and after a tornado in Michigan, you can find resources at www.michigan.gov/miready

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