Schools prepare for statewide tornado drill

Drills begin at 1:45 p.m., 6:45 p.m.

Schools prepare for statewide tornado...

This week marks Severe Weather Awareness Week.

To mark the event, Thursday at 1:45 p.m. and 6:45 p.m., the state is planning a mock tornado drill. ‘

It has everyone from the National Weather Service to local schools preparing for the "what-if."

As principal at Eagle Bluff Elementary School in Onalaska, Todd Saner said educating students comes second when severe weather strikes.

"Nobody wants any disasters to occur, but the more prepared we are, the better off we'll be,” Saner said.

Eagle Bluff is one of several schools which will participate in the statewide tornado drill Thursday.

"We move quickly and quietly so that we can hear directions, to safe spots in our schools,” Saner said. “The kids get into the duck and cover position, and they wait until they get the all-clear."

"Rehearsing and thinking ahead of time is the goal,” said Todd Shea of the National Weather Service.

Officials with the National Weather Service in La Crosse said its good practice for them as well.

"If we run into snafus or problems with communication when we're actually putting live tornado warnings out, that could affect safety,” Shae said. “So these drills also help us keep that process running smoothly."

And over time, the state has made a few changes to the drill.

"We've also added an evening drill, which Minnesota has done for years but in Wisconsin we now have the evening drill, which allows people to rehearse their action plans when they're home,” Shae said.

But whether it’s a drill or the real deal, officials said it’s better to just be prepared.

"While you might go through years and years without any severe weather, there could be that day that either a tornado comes through, or maybe a bad flash flood,” Shae said.

"I think the more kids know, and the more students understand what to do and what's expected, we can get through any situation that might come up,” Saner said.

The National Weather Service said as always, it’s good to have a weather radio nearby, because tornado sirens are meant for people outdoors.

School officials said it’s crucial to keep students calm by providing as much information to the students as possible, and to remain calm and quiet so they can listen to directions.

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