It's a test: Sirens will blow April 21 for drill by M. Jill Sundstrom Spring and Summer Severe Weather Awareness Week is set for April 19-23 this year and Vermillion will participate with a storm siren drill on Wednesday, April 21.
At 10 a.m., a �tornado watch� will be issued from the National Weather Service office in Sioux Falls.
At 10:30 a.m., a �tornado warning� will be issued. All watches and warnings will be canceled by the NWS office at 11 a.m. The drills will be conducted statewide.
As better weather comes with the change of seasons, people often become complacent about the potential for storms. But Ben Taylor, Clay County Emergency Management director, says the need is always there to spread the word about how to survive the wrath of Mother Nature � especially tornadoes and high wind storms.
Although there is no guaranteed safe place during a tornado, some locations are better than others. Vermillion has several severe weather storm shelters, where community residents can go when the siren blows a tornado warning if they have no basement or similar structural protection of their own.
These shelters and their location are:
? Trinity Lutheran Church, 816 E. Clark Street
? Hillside Community Church, 1000 Constance Drive
? First Baptist Church, 101 East Main Street
? Concordia Lutheran Church, 7 South University
? Eagle�s Club, 114 West Main
? National Guard Armory, 603 Princeton Street
? Public Safety Center, 15 Washington Street.
Storm centers on the University of South Dakota campus are available on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. They are:
? Akeley Science Center
? Dakota Hall
? Noteboom Hall
? Slagle Hall
? Arts and Science building
? East Hall
? School of Law
? DakotaDome locker rooms
? Coyote Student Center
? Lee Medicine and Science.
�The sirens will blow when we have a high wind storm or when a tornado is spotted,� Taylor said. �A tornado warning siren is a steady tone that blows for several minutes, compared to the alternating high-low tone of a fire whistle. If people need shelter, they can go to the closest one.
�Don�t pack a bag,� he continued. �You don�t have time. Just get there � get out of the storm.�
Radio will give all-clear
Once the storm has passed, an all-clear siren will not blow.
�This has been confusing to people in the past,� Taylor said. �If you turn on your radio to station MIX106 KVHT Vermillion/Yankton or KOOL1570 KOSZ Vermillion, you will be informed when the storm is over.�
He added that a battery-operated radio is an important piece of equipment to have if the electricity goes out. Locally, MIX106 KVHT Vermillion/ Yankton or KOOL1570 KOSZ Vermillion will track the storm to keep listeners informed of its progress.
Although tornadoes are not a frequent occurrence, they are always possible. It�s especially important to remember the difference between a tornado watch and warning.
A watch is given when weather conditions are favorable to the formation of tornadoes, for example during severe thunderstorms. During a tornado watch, keep an eye on the weather and be prepared to take shelter immediately if conditions worsen.
A warning is given when a tornado funnel is sighted or indicated by radar. You should take shelter immediately. Because tornadoes can form and move quickly, there may not be time for a warning. That�s why it�s important to stay alert during storms.