Just in time, as pleasant temperatures float through the Wabash Valley, it’s Indiana State Weather Preparedness Week, as Governor Eric Holcomb has proclaimed.

The goal of Severe Weather Preparedness Week is to better educate people about the dangers of severe weather and to prepare them in the event of severe weather.

Aaron Updike, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Indianapolis, said March is a good time to create such awareness because severe weather season kicks off in April. “That’s when you get all the ingredients for bad weather,” he said.

Jesse Walker, chief meteorologist for WTWO/WAWV, agrees. “For us, April, May and June are extreme weather seasons,” he said. “That’s when some of our biggest tornado outbreaks happened. On June 2, 1990, there were 37 tornadoes in one afternoon, that’s the equivalent of two years in five hours. The deadliest wave of tornadoes occurred on April 11, 1965 when tornadoes killed 125 people.

On Tuesday, as part of severe weather preparedness week, sirens across the state kicked off a statewide tornado drill. Each year, Indiana experiences approximately 25 tornadoes per year. Tornadoes tend to strike between 3 p.m. and 8 p.m., with a second peak from midnight to 3 a.m.

Updike said that when tornadoes approach, “sheltering on the lowest level of your home is safest, in an interior room. Bathrooms are great places to shelter, and if you have a basement, under the stairwell is one of the safest places because stairwells are often the strongest structures in a home.

“People want to look out the window to see the storm, but the danger is flying glass, so you have to stay away from the windows,” Walker added. “I have two words – ‘low’ and ‘inside’. Stay low and put as many walls as possible between yourself and this storm. Small rooms are better than big rooms.” Wrapping up in overcoats or blankets adds extra protection.

Walker noted, however, “Despite all the tornado talk, it’s not our biggest weather concern here. Lightning is bigger than tornadoes here.

And unlike the huge samples that tornadoes can knock down, lightning strikes can be much more unpredictable. Updike said: “Lightning is definitely more random – you don’t know where it’s going to strike. Ride indoors or in a car with the windows open.

If you can hear thunder, the lightning is close enough that it could strike your location at any time.

“The problem with lightning is that people think they’re not in danger until the storm comes, and they don’t get inside soon enough,” Walker said. “But with lightning, the saying is, ‘If you see it, run away from it. ““Or, as the National Weather Service puts it, “When thunder rolls, come inside!”

Of lightning fatalities, 63% occur during recreational activities such as fishing, hiking, golfing, soccer, baseball, or boating. A further 17% occur during work activities such as farming, construction and roofing, with 16% occurring during daily routine activities such as getting to or from a house or car or simply taking out the trash.

Flooding is also a hazard, but can occur throughout the year. Monitor weather reports during thunderstorms and look for higher elevation if a flood watch or warning is declared. Whenever a severe weather warning is issued, immediate action is required to protect life and property.

In Indiana, wind and hail events are more common than tornadoes and lightning, but are generally less dangerous. The #1 weather killer nationally is extreme heat. When a heat wave is imminent, stay out of the sun when possible and wear light clothing, sunglasses, and a hat when out in the sun. Stay hydrated, eat light meals, and don’t overwork yourself.

Assembling an emergency preparedness kit is also recommended. It should contain food and water for three days, extra flashlights and batteries, battery operated radio, first aid kit, multi-tool, personal hygiene items, copies of documents personal, extra cash, emergency blanket, and baby and pet supplies as needed.

Updike says the most important thing is to “make sure you are aware of the weather. Keep track of forecasts. We broadcast information about possible severe weather two or three days in advance.

David Kronke can be reached at 812-231-4232 or [email protected]