Even though Wednesday morning was sunny and clear, folks across Nebraska and Iowa were asked to turn their attention to tornadoes during this Severe Weather Awareness Week.
Douglas and Sarpy counties have 180 emergency sirens and all of them, plus hundreds more across Nebraska and Iowa, sounded as part of a test.
"At approximately 10 this morning the National Weather Service will issue a tornado warning as a test and communities across Nebraska have a chance to practice their preparedness and schools and businesses as well as we will sound the sirens,” said Douglas County Emergency Management Director Paul Johnson.
The sirens will go off when there really is a tornado warning or sustained winds over 75 miles an hour. While you'll quite possibly hear the siren inside, remember they are not designed to be heard indoors, but to alert anyone outside.
Since schools and businesses are also being asked to practice their tornado response, this would be the perfect time to talk to your children about such an event. See if they have questions and talk through your family plan in case of a tornado, especially how you'll communicate or meet up if a severe weather event happens when you're away from each other.
Take two minutes to download the free Red Cross tornado app, not just on your phone, but your kid's phone too, especially considering tornadoes often hit in the late afternoon and evening, when parents might not yet be home.
“Have them download, your kids, have your babysitter download the free tornado app because it just gives that childcare provider a little bit of extra comfort, a little bit of reassurance and your kids as well to know that they know what to do and mom and dad aren't home,” said Liz Dorland with the Red Cross. “That's a scary situation."
Then test the app's tornado siren, the sound you'll hear from your phone if a tornado warning is issued for your area. It’s a good tool to have close by since the sirens aren't designed to be heard indoors.
Here are six ways you can prepare for the real thing:
1. Talk to your family
2. Understand the terminology
3. Know where to go
4. Check your kit
5. Assess outdoor dangers
6. Download WOWT app
Part of the WOWT app includes interactive radar, so you can zoom right into your neighborhood. If you see something troubling or hear those sirens go off, you can expect extensive coverage on WOWT 6 News and wowt.com.