This is Severe Weather Preparedness Week

Mar. 12—In the months of February, March, April and May, Hoosiers know to expect all kinds of weather. From snow and ice to thunderstorms and tornadoes, Indiana experiences a wide range of weather. That is why Gov. Eric J. Holcomb proclaimed March 10 to 16 as Severe Weather Preparedness Week.

The Indiana Department of Homeland Security collaborates with the National Weather Service during Severe Weather Preparedness Week to educate Hoosiers about the possibility of severe weather and remind them that they are their own first line of defense when protecting their families and communities.

"We experience severe weather frequently, but we cannot overlook how we prepare for these storms. Check in with your family members, make sure they know what to do and when to do it if a storm approaches," said IDHS Emergency Management and Preparedness Director Mary Moran.

IDHS encourages all families, schools and workplaces to make tornado safety plans. You can practice these plans during the statewide tornado drill at 10:15 a.m. Tuesday, March 12. The drill will be broadcasted as an Emergency Alert System on television and radio.

Thunderstorm Safety Tips

During the spring and summer months, thunderstorms that produce lightning, thunder, heavy rain, flooding, strong winds, tornadoes and hail can occur. These storms are extremely dangerous and can appear suddenly with little warning and may only last a few minutes, but they have the strength and power to cause a great amount of damage.

In 2023, the National Weather Service received hundreds of reports of severe thunderstorms in Indiana, including more than 300 reports of wind damage and 150 reports of severe hail.

Check weather forecasts daily, purchase an all-hazard weather radio and have multiple ways to receive weather alerts.

If caught outside and there are no shelters nearby, avoid taking shelter in or near water, high ground, large open areas, isolated trees, all metal objects and electrical wires.

Basements, inner rooms and storm cellars provide the best protection during a thunderstorm. Stay in the center of the room, away from doors and windows.

Stay sheltered until at least 30 minutes after the last sound of thunder.

In the event of flooding, do not walk or drive through floodwaters.

Terms to Know

Thunderstorm Watch: Conditions for a thunderstorm are favorable.

Thunderstorm Warning: A thunderstorm has been reported or has been detected by the National Weather Service's weather radar.

Tornado Safety Tips

More than 1,400 tornadoes have been verified in Indiana since 1950, causing more than 5,000 injuries and 300 fatalities. In 2022, 15 tornadoes were recorded in the state.

Tornadoes are violent, rotating cylinders that can have wind speeds in excess of 300 mph, be more than a mile wide and cover approximately 50 miles during destruction. Because tornadoes are one of the more common natural-disaster risks the state faces, it is imperative Hoosiers are prepared before one occurs.

Identify safe places to shelter. For optimal protection, choose basements, storm cellars and inner rooms away from doors, windows and outer walls.

If you live in a mobile or manufactured home, identify an alternative shelter such as a single-family home, designated tornado shelter or building built with reinforced concrete. Also, find the best route to this shelter and practice how long it takes to get there.

During tornado warnings, move to the lowest level of a sturdy building. It is best to go to a basement, safe room or storm cellar. If unavailable, use an interior room or hallway without windows.

Stay out of damaged buildings until they have been inspected and cleared by a building official.

Terms to Know

Tornado Watch: Conditions for a tornado are favorable. Stay alert about approaching storms.

Tornado Warning: A tornado has been reported or has been detected by the National Weather Service's weather radar. Seek shelter immediately.

Safe Rooms

Protecting Hoosiers since 2015, the IDHS Safe Room Program has helped residents and communities statewide install hardened structures specifically designed to provide "near-absolute protection" in extreme weather events, like tornadoes.

Safe rooms provide a shield of protection, and studies demonstrate that they can survive winds as high as 250 miles per hour. Built above or below ground level, safe rooms are customizable. They can be small enough for a family to seek shelter or large enough for dozens of school students and staff to hunker down.

IDHS coordinates with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on the grant program to provide partial reimbursement for safe room projects.

For more information about being prepared for severe weather year round, visit www.in.gov/dhs/get-prepared/nature-safety/.