So far, 2012 has proven to be an active tornado year. As we've seen over the weekend, tornadoes can strike with little or no warning. Towns in southern Iowa learned this firsthand Saturday night.
Iowans can be prepared for severe weather by taking a few simple steps, like putting together a family emergency kit and making a communication plan. Gather enough water, food and supplies to last for 72 hours, then place the items in the designated storm shelter. As families may not be in the same place when a disaster strikes, come up with a plan for how loved ones will contact each other, how to get back together and what to do in different situations. Visit with your neighbors and set up a plan to check on each other after a storm.
Listen to NOAA Weather Radio or to commercial radio or television newscasts for the latest information. In any emergency, always listen to the instructions given by local emergency management officials.
Be alert to changing weather conditions. The National Weather Service suggests watching for the following danger signs:
n Dark, often greenish sky;
n Large hail;
n A large, dark, low-lying cloud (particularly if rotating);
n Loud roar, similar to a freight train.
If you see approaching storms or any of the danger signs, be prepared to take shelter immediately.
As we approach what many consider the peak months for tornadoes in Iowa, being prepared is essential. The loss of a roof, a building or a car is nothing compared to the loss of a family member, friend or neighbor.