Severe Weather Awareness Week: State-wide Tornado Drill Wed - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Severe Weather Awareness Week: State-wide Tornado Drill Wednesday

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DAVENPORT (KWWL) -

Iowa's Severe Weather Awareness Week runs April 4-8, and severe weather Sunday evening launched it.

It might seem a little early for severe weather, but April 3 of 1974 saw one of the most deadly tornado outbreaks in the US in recorded history.

148 tornadoes swept the eastern half of the country, killing more than 300 people and injuring thousands.

John Haase, forecaster at the National Weather Service in the quad cities and 28-year veteran of weather service, remembers that day.

"That pretty much was the daddy of all of them," he said. "The most intense outbreak. That's why we call it the Super Outbreak. There was 148 tornadoes in about a 48 hour period, and that's never happened before."

One important pattern links that super outbreak 37 years ago to severe weather season 2011: La Nina.

"We've had this La Nina, which is colder than normal sea surface temperatures off the Equatorial Pacific, South America, and in that kind of pattern, there actually is an enhanced risk for the number of tornado days," Haase said. "Also, there's potential for an increase of more intense tornadoes."

For a person to be constantly on guard, Haase recommends getting a weather radio.

"There's different kinds. Some of them range from 20 dollars, all the way to 80," Haase said, gesturing to the wide array of shapes, sizes and brands of weather radios on display at the NWS building.

As long as it has the NOAA symbol, he said, people will get not only weather alerts, but also hazardous material alerts and amber alerts.

"You want to be prepared way ahead of time, so that's half the game right there," he said.

As part of Iowa's Severe Weather Awareness Week, the NWS is having a state-wide tornado drill on Wednesday at 10 a.m.

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