SIREN, Wis. (AP) -- As the state prepares for the start of another tornado season, this northwestern Wisconsin community is a bit more apprehensive after a tornado nearly leveled the village and killed three people last June.
"Some people have commented that when the winds start to blow or the sky gets kind of dark they have some fears, and I think that's very natural," village President Larry Blahauvietze said.
The June 18 twister at Siren was the single most deadly in Wisconsin since the Barneveld tornado killed nine people in June 1984.
The National Weather Service reports the number of tornadoes has dropped every year since 1994, when 36 were recorded. Last year, 12 were spotted across the state.
Still, the state has kicked off Tornado and Severe Weather Awareness Week to prepare people for the devastating effects of severe spring and summer weather.
More than 300 people turned out at a public meeting last week in Siren where National Weather Service meteorologist Carol Christenson educated residents about spotting bad weather.
"We are not in Tornado Alley, but that does not mean tornadoes will not occur," she said. "They will occur. Maybe not this year or next, but they will occur. We always have to be prepared."
Siren's antiquated warning siren -- which wasn't working June 18 because lightning had damaged it a month before -- has been replaced. Washburn County has given out more than 550 weather radios that turn on automatically when severe weather threatens.
Wisconsin Emergency Management and the National Weather Service have set Thursday as tornado drill day.
A practice tornado watch will sound at 1:15 p.m. followed by a warning at 1:45 p.m. Many schools and businesses will participate in the annual drill.
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