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IEMA urging people to prepare for severe weather

By Staff Report
updated: 2/28/2017 2:57 PM

The National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., has increased the threat level of severe weather today and tonight from "enhanced" to "moderate."

According to the NWS, potential hazards with a moderate-level threat are damaging wind gusts, very large hail and the possibility of tornadoes.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency sent out a news release urging people to be prepared to act quickly if storm warnings are issued.

"It's critical for people to have multiple ways to receive notifications and updated information about severe weather warnings, such as through a weather alert radio," said IEMA Director James K. Joseph in a statement. "It's possible some of the severe storms this evening will occur after dark when most people are inside and asleep.

"A weather alert radio can wake you up and give you time to seek shelter when dangerous weather or other hazards are approaching your area."

Joseph said National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather alert radios can be programmed to issue a tone alarm and provide information about a warning that has been issued for your county.

Other ways to receive severe weather warnings include Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA), weather alert apps, TV and radio broadcasts, the Internet and outdoor warning sirens.

"Severe weather is already imminent across Illinois on the last day of February, which underscores how important it is to be prepared for thunderstorms that produce wind damage, large hail, tornadoes and flash flooding any time of the year," said Chris Miller, warning coordination meteorologist with NWS office in Lincoln. "The key points of severe weather safety include avoiding flooded roads in vehicles, seeking shelter in a secure building - preferably in the basement - when a tornado is nearby, and staying away from windows, doors and upper levels of buildings during severe thunderstorms.

Seek shelter immediately if a tornado warning is issued for your area. The best shelter is in a basement or cellar.

If an underground shelter is not available, find an interior room or hallway on the lowest level, such as a closet, small interior hallways and bathrooms without windows.

IEMA and local emergency management agencies will be promoting Severe Weather Preparedness Month throughout March.

In addition, IEMA and the Illinois Emergency Services Management Association (IESMA) are sponsoring an online contest that offers Illinois residents a chance to win a portable weather alert radio. The "Weather Alert Radios Save Lives" contest will begin tomorrow and continue through March 31.

The weather alert radio contest will be available on the Ready Illinois website at

A total of 100 portable weather alert radios will be awarded to randomly selected participants who register after reading information about the radios and successfully completing a five-question quiz.

Winners will be announced in April.

IEMA and the NWS developed a Severe Weather Preparedness Guide, which provides information about tornadoes, severe storms, lightning and flooding along with recommended actions to take before, during and after each of these weather events.

It is available on the Ready Illinois website at

Preparedness tips and information are also available through the Ready Illinois Facebook Page ( and Twitter Page (