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Four years ago, three tornadoes touched down in Racine County. Property was damaged, but, luckily, no one was injured or killed. This week, April 21 to April 25, is Tornado and Severe Weather Awareness Week to call attention to the importance of warnings.

“I would like to encourage everyone to Listen, Act and Live!” said County Executive Jim Ladwig in a written statement from Racine County Emergency Management. “Advanced warning saves lives, but we need to act on the warning.  When warnings are issued, immediately go to a safe place.”

On Thursday there will be a statewide mock tornado drill, starting first with a watch issued at 1 p.m. and followed by a warning at 1:45 p.m. Several radio and TV stations will participate in the drill, and NOAA weather radios will issue alert warnings. In Racine County, warning sirens will sound in the areas where they’re located.

David Maack, director of RCEM, also provided these facts about severe weather in our area:

  • Wisconsin averages 23 tornadoes annually and that Racine County has recorded 25 tornadoes since 1844;
  • The May 18th, 1883 tornado which hit the north side of the City of Racine is one of Wisconsin’s Top Ten Killer Tornadoes?  This tornado struck just blocks from Lake Michigan, killing 25 people and injuring over 100;
  • In 2013, 16 tornadoes touched down in Wisconsin including six during the night and early morning hours of August 6-7 when an EF2 struck near New London in Waupaca and Outagamie counties. That tornado injured two residents and caused millions of dollars in damage.
  • The peak tornado season in Wisconsin is April to August, but tornadoes can occur any time of year, like the January 7, 2008 tornadoes which struck Kenosha County.

Maack stresses the importance of having a NOAA radio in all homes, businesses and schools and urges residents to sign up for text alerts.

“They should be as common as a smoke detector!” he said in the statement. “In addition, sign up for text alerts on your phone and be alert to changing weather conditions.”