It’s always a frightening thought that one morning your family could wake up to the forecast of possible severe weather on the horizon and fall victim to a storm that quickly blows through later that day.
But how many times do we take such predictions seriously?
After all, how often do we hear a weather warning and wonder whether the storm will just blow over or — at worst — if we need to take an umbrella to some outside event, just in case.
Very rarely do we think about the loss of life that could happen if everything lines up according to the weather report’s worst possible scenario.
But loss of life can, and does, happen — more often than we realize.
While the state of Iowa sees an average 46 tornadoes per year, 105 tornadoes struck Iowa in 2008. Two deadly tornadoes that year that killed 13 people. And every year since 1980, the state of Iowa has recorded on average one death and 22 injuries as the result of a tornado.
How quickly life can be turned upside down by a weather event became very apparent in Clinton on March 15 when two tornadoes cut paths of damage. The first confirmed tornado was an EF-1 with winds up to 90 mph that caused damage to the Royal Pines Village Mobile Park on the west edge of the city. Twenty-nine mobile homes sustained damage — some of it major — as a result of the tornado.
The second confirmed tornado was an EF-1 with winds up to 95 mph causing damage near Andover.
While there is a lot of cleanup to do, residents were lucky — some sustained minor injuries but no one was killed as a result of the storm.
Preventing deaths is the reason behind this week’s Severe Weather Awareness Week as proclaimed by Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad.
The bottom line is preparedness through practicing drills that lead to appropriate action on the part of local governments, businesses, industries, schools, hospitals, health-care facilities and individual citizens should they encounter a tornado, flash flood or severe thunderstorm event.
It also includes providing severe weather instruction in schools, distribution of safety and preparedness information, and helping local communities develop storm-spotter networks.
It’s all about being ready, having an evacuation plan in place and an emergency kit prepared.
And keeping an eye on the sky and an ear to the radio should dark skies start rolling in.