Severe Weather Awareness Week in Michigan is underway and that means it's time for the annual statewide tornado drill.

Although there are still some stray flakes flying, severe weather season in Michigan is right around the corner, and the annual Michigan statewide tornado drill is meant to help Michiganders test their severe weather readiness plans before spring severe weather arrives in the Mitten state.

“We are approaching the anniversary of the deadly EF3 tornado that devastated the city of Gaylord last year,” said Capt. Kevin Sweeney, deputy state director of Emergency Management and commander of the MSP/EMHSD. “It serves as an important reminder to take steps now to prepare and create a plan to protect your home, your family, and your pets.”

When is Michigan's Statewide Tornado Drill?

Michigan's statewide Tornado Drill on Wednesday, March 22, 2023. Around 1 p.m. The National Weather Service will use their Routine Weekly Test on NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards to participate in the statewide tornado drill. State officials say residents will hear alerts on TV and radio stations to alert them of the tornado drill and outdoor sirens if the local management agency is participating.

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According to The National Weather Service, the state of Michigan averages 15 tornadoes each year. The average lead time for tornadoes to develop is 10 to 15 minutes, which means residents need to be ready to react quickly when a warning is issued.

Storms can change quickly and knowing what to look for is key to staying safe. We chatted with former Mid-Michigan NOW, and current CBS News Detroit, meteorologist Ahmad Bajjey who told us that Michigan tornadoes occur most frequently from April until July. Tornadoes can strike with little warning, and even though meteorologists are now better able to predict the signs a twister is coming it sometimes isn’t enough. Knowing what to look for can add even a few extra minutes, allowing anyone in harm’s way to seek shelter.
Warning Signs that a Tornado May Develop

  • A dark, often greenish, sky.
  • Shelf clouds
  • Wall clouds or an approaching cloud of debris.
  • Large hail often in the absence of rain.
  • Before a tornado strikes, the wind may die down and the air may become very still.
  • A loud roar similar to a freight train may be heard.
  • An approaching cloud of debris, even if a funnel is not visible.

Taking time to prepare for a weather emergency can also be a major plus when it comes to what happens post-storm. Bajjey strongly advises always having items prepared for when you need to seek shelter.

"First and most important have a first aid kit. Also a flashlight and extra batteries and battery operated way to recharge you phone so you can stay connected. It's not a bad idea to invest in a weather radio too."

Bajjey says that a "Watch" is basically the "recipe for everything to happen". It's like baking a cake. When a "Warning" is given that means the cake is "done" and it's ready....and time to take immediate shelter. Following those indications and weather alerts can save your life in severe weather.

LOOK: The most expensive weather and climate disasters in recent decades

Stacker ranked the most expensive climate disasters by the billions since 1980 by the total cost of all damages, adjusted for inflation, based on 2021 data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The list starts with Hurricane Sally, which caused $7.3 billion in damages in 2020, and ends with a devastating 2005 hurricane that caused $170 billion in damage and killed at least 1,833 people. Keep reading to discover the 50 of the most expensive climate disasters in recent decades in the U.S.


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