IEMA, NWS Develop Severe Weather
Sheltering Guidance to Address COVID-19 Concerns
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[May 24, 2020]
IL – As we head into the spring months, the risk of severe
thunderstorms typically increases across the state of Illinois,
including the risk for tornadoes. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic
and the recommended social distancing parameters, people who rely on
public sheltering from tornadoes could be faced with the difficult
choice of sheltering from the tornado in a community shelter or
refraining from going to the shelter in order to limit potential
exposure to COVID-19.
At this time, the Illinois Emergency Management
Agency and the National Weather Service are recommending that your
first priority should be to protect yourself from a potential
tornado. However, the decision to open a community shelter will
ultimately be at the discretion of local officials. Before you make
the decision to go to a community shelter, you should first check
with local officials to ensure they will be open. This should be
done ahead of any thunderstorm, well before any warnings are issued.
If you rely on community shelters, now is a good time to explore
other options that might keep you safe from a tornado while also
limiting your potential exposure to COVID-19.
The National Weather Service and state and local emergency
management officials strongly encourage people to have a National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) All Hazards Weather
Radio with battery backup.
These radios can be programmed to receive alerts
for specified counties to keep you and your family apprised of
impending weather and post-event information for all types of
hazards including natural (earthquakes), environmental (chemical
spills) and public safety hazards (AMBER alerts).
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When an alert is issued for the programmed area, the
device will sound a warning alarm tone followed by the essential
In addition to NOAA weather radios, Wireless
Emergency Alerts (WEA) can provide life-saving information about
impending storms and emergencies. These alerts can be sent to your
mobile device without the need to download an app or subscribe to a
service. Not only are these critical tools to surviving overnight
storms, but they can be extremely beneficial for those who travel.
For more information regarding tornado and severe storm safety, as
well as Illinois COVID-19 updates, please visit ready.illinois.gov
[Illinois Office of Communication and