Hazardous Weather

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Table of Contents

Introduction 2

Background and Mission 3

Hazardous Weather 4

A. Plan

An effective hazardous weather plan 5

Identifying safe areas in your facility 6

Special considerations (winter, heat, outdoor activities) 6
B. Practice

Severe Weather Awareness Week 7

C. Monitor

Designated Weather Watcher 8

Text Services from the National Weather Service 9

NOAA All Hazards Radio 11

Web Site 13
D. Act

School severe weather safety 14

School bus weather safety 15

Education Resources
Web sites 16

A. Wind Chill and Heat Index Charts 18

B. NOAA All-Hazards Radio Coverage Areas 20

C. FIPS Codes for Programming Radios 21

D. School Severe Weather Worksheet 22

E. Effective Severe Weather Plan Worksheet 23

F. Service Area 17


On April 8 at 5 p.m. the skies were partly sunny and the temperature was in the 70s in Hamilton, Illinois. Several sporting events were scheduled for that evening in the Hamilton School District, including a baseball game and a track meet. At 6:52 p.m. an F3 tornado struck Hamilton, including the baseball field and track where the events had been planned. No one was hurt. No one was even there. Why? Because a school official was aware that there was a risk of severe weather that day. He called the National Weather Service that afternoon, and based on a real-time assessment of the potential for severe weather, made the tough decision to cancel the events, in spite of the current tranquil conditions. He undoubtedly saved lives.

We are the National Weather Service, Quad Cities Forecast Office, serving eastern Iowa, western Illinois, and northeast Missouri. Our mission is to protect lives and property from the effects of extreme weather, including everything from fog to lightning, tornadoes to blizzards, wind chill to heat waves. We provide information to help officials and local school decision-makers anticipate the effects of all types of weather on staff, students, and activities. We want to help you plan and prepare for the variety of weather conditions that we face here in the Midwest.
This guide is designed to outline for you the support available to all schools by our office.
For further information about our office, products, or services, contact Donna Dubberke at (563) 386-3976, ext. 726 or donna.dubberke@noaa.gov.

Last Updated July 10, 2018

Background & Mission

“The National Weather Service provides weather, hydrologic, and climate data, forecasts, and warnings … for the protection of life and property and the enhancement of the national economy.”

This mission is carried out by a highly trained workforce amidst a network of weather offices located throughout the United States and its territories. Through this network, the National Weather Service provides data to several user communities around the clock. Information is made available to the private sector through such outlets as the NOAA All Hazards Wire Service and the Emergency Managers Weather Information Network to meet specific and unique individual, corporate, and educational needs.
The National Weather Service offers:

  • Warnings and Forecasts for Severe Weather

  • Warnings and Forecasts for Winter Weather

  • Warnings and Forecasts for Non-Precipitation Hazards

  • Warnings and Forecasts for the Aviation, Hydrologic, Marine, and Fire Weather Communities

  • Digital and Text Forecasts for Various Weather Parameters through 7 Days

  • Forecasts for General Weather Trends beyond 7 Days

  • Spot Weather Forecasts for Emergency Management and Land Management Agencies in support of HAZMAT and Wild Fire Containment

  • High-Quality Data Collection and Distribution to the Private Sector

  • Historical Databases of Climate Phenomena

  • Preparedness information for all seasons

Within the framework outlined above, our priority for service to the nation is protection of life and property, and enhancement of the national economy. For the National Weather Service in the Quad Cities, this means constantly striving to provide accurate weather and hydrologic services to the best of our ability for the residents in eastern Iowa, northwest Illinois and northeast Missouri.

Hazardous Weather
It was July 13, 2004 at about 4:30 pm in the afternoon. A tornado packing winds over 200 mph tracked near Roanoke, Illinois, struck Parsons Manufacturing. Cars and semi trucks were tossed. I-beams were twisted. The factory was demolished. There were 140 people in the building at the time. No fatalities. No injuries. Not even a scratch.

What is the secret to this amazing success story? It can be boiled down to Bob Parsons, the owner of the company, and his commitment to protecting his employees from the very real danger of severe weather in the Midwest. Mr. Parsons instituted an extraordinarily effective severe weather strategy that went far beyond putting a plan on paper.

It started with his severe weather plan – including the construction of 3 tornado shelters in the facility. Then they practiced. In fact, they had had a tornado drill at the factory one week before the tornado struck. They monitored the weather using a designated weather watcher – the security staff who monitored their weather radio and the sky. And when the time came to act, it only took 3 minutes to get everyone to safety.
Each piece of the puzzle is critical. If you take any single piece out, you don’t have the whole picture; you can’t expect the same outcome.

An Effective Hazardous Weather Plan


  • Know the threats

  • Address each threat as it applies to your faculty, staff, and students (Lightning, Hail, Blizzard, Extreme Heat/Cold, Tornado, Extreme wind, Flash Flood)

  • Consider time of day

    • peak tornado occurrence is 4-7 pm

    • peak high wind occurrence is 6-9 pm


  • Training meetings: Make sure everyone knows the plan

  • Drills: Practice the plan

    • Evaluate time needed

    • Evaluate suitability of shelters

  • Severe Weather Awareness Week – tornado drill day for each state


  • Designate a Weather Watcher

  • Available information: before, during, after

    • Outlook: what to expect that day

    • Watch: within a few hours (thunderstorms) or a day or so (winter storms)

    • Warning: severe thunderstorm, tornado, blizzard, winter storm


  • Be proactive

  • Establish criteria

  • How will action be initiated?

    • Means of communication

    • Backup plan

  • Where will people go?

    • Lowest Floor

    • Interior of Building

    • Small roof spans

    • Without windows

    • Enough space

    • Enough time to get there
  • How will you communicate an “all-clear”?

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