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Get ready for a tornado drill on Thursday, April 12

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Steve SchofieldAccording to the National Weather Service, Wisconsin averages 23 tornadoes annually. Last June we saw the largest tornado outbreak in Northeast Wisconsin history.

This week, TV and radio stations throughout Wisconsin will help you prepare for the next one.

April 9-13, 2018 is Wisconsin’s Tornado and Severe Weather Awareness Week, with statewide tornado drills scheduled for Thursday, April 12. A mock tornado watch will be issued April 12 at 1 p.m., followed by a statewide mock tornado warning at 1:45 p.m.

There will also be a statewide test in the evening. A mock tornado warning will be issued at 6:55 p.m. so families can practice their emergency plans at home.

Because actual Emergency Alert System warning codes are being sent, TV and radio messages may not reflect that this is a test and seem as if the watches and warnings are real. While the Wireless Emergency Alert system won't be activated, you may receive NWS alerts or text messages through your smartphone apps. In addition, mock alerts will be issued on NOAA Weather Radios and many communities will sound their tornado sirens to test their emergency severe weather plans.

Do you know the difference between a severe weather watch and a severe weather warning?

WATCH: Stay alert and aware. A severe thunderstorm or tornado watch gives you advance notice that conditions are favorable for dangerous weather. A watch is not a warning. During a watch, there will be information about what type of weather you might see and the chance of it actually occurring. When your area is in a watch, stay alert for changing weather.

WARNING: Take action now. A warning is issued when severe weather is about to strike in your area. For severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, and flash floods, it means the weather event is happening now and you need to take action immediately.

For more information and for help building a basic disaster supply kit and creating an emergency plan to protect yourself and your family, visit READYWisconsin. Any changes to the drills will be issued to local media as well as posted on the READYWisconsin website as well as their social media feeds.

Steve Schofield, Personal Insurance Consultant