Severe weather week

OTTUMWA — The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted life throughout Iowa, but officials are hoping people will still take time to prepare this week for severe weather season.

The storms brought each year by the warming weather pose a genuine risk to people and property. It takes time each spring to get back to thinking about how you would react, and that’s what Severe Weather Awareness Week is designed to jump-start.

Monday was the first day of this year’s push, and it focused on severe thunderstorms. Storms reach severe levels if they produce hail of 1-inch diameter and/or have winds of 58 mph or more. Some will produce far more powerful gusts and can do damage that rivals some tornadoes.

A severe thunderstorm watch means conditions are right for strong storms and people should be ready to take shelter if one forms. A severe thunderstorm warning means a storm has reached severe levels and is approaching your area.

Tuesday’s focus is on weather warnings. While media will try to relay warnings as quickly as possible, having a weather radio programmed to announce alerts for your area will allow you to get warnings straight from the National Weather Service. If conditions are right for storms, know how you’ll receive alerts wherever you are.

This year’s awareness week is being complicated by the virus outbreak. All storm spotter classes in Iowa have been called off, and even the annual statewide tornado drill has been canceled. So it’s more important than usual for people to take the time to plan and prepare for themselves.

Additional resources are available online at the website for the National Weather Service’s Des Moines office and at the Wapello County Emergency Management Agency’s site:

Matt Milner can be reached at and followed on Twitter @mwmilner


Managing Editor

Matt Milner currently serves as the Courier's Managing Editor. Milner is a trained weather spotter and is usually outside if there are storms. He joined the Courier in 2002.

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