SGT. BLUFF, Iowa — RAGBRAI is one of the biggest events in Iowa each year and taking place in the middle of summer runs the risk of one thing, severe weather. And with severe storms slated to pass through northwest Iowa Saturday, RAGBRAI organizers are making sure riders are prepared.
"We are working with our local weather office, which is out of Sioux Falls and Des Moines as they trek through the state. And they are going to give us extra lead time as things pop up so we can safely get people to shelter as that happens."
Sergeant Bluff Fire Chief Anthony Gaul says the town began preparing for severe weather even before official forecasts for the weekend were released.
"We did a final test of our outdoor warning system which is meant to alert people that are outdoors in case of severe weather or disasters," he said. "We have a voice function on that that we tested as well as the tone siren alert."
While Saturday isn't an official ride day, thousands will be in town and camping outdoors.
"The plan right now is, as we follow the same as Sioux City, if a tornado or winds of 70mph or greater are predicted, we will set off the outdoor warning system. If there is severe weather that does not reach that level, we will announce that over the public address feature of that outdoor warning system that covers our town," he said of their plan to warn the thousands of people that will be camping outdoors this weekend. "We also have access to the emergency alert system and Alert Iowa through emergency management."
The City of Sgt. Bluff has storm shelters available and is even asking residents to open their homes as shelters should the need arise by posting signs on their doors.
Ahead of the weekend and beyond Sergeant Bluff, RAGBRAI goers can ride easy knowing Iowa is prepared to keep them safe throughout the journey.
"Our fire district goes out to Old Highway 141 and then Bronson picks that up. And then they will ride through Bronson's fire district, part of Moville's and then into Anthon. So those departments have their own preparations and plans but we have that consistency with the sheriff's office," said Gaul.
And with more thunderstorms possible throughout the week, stay weather aware and look for storm shelters set up by communities along the route. Each town has prepped storm shelters and weather-safe areas for participants should they be needed.
One other way to stay weather aware this weekend and throughout RAGBRAI is to download a weather app to your phone like the Siouxland News weather app which will send alerts to your phone if severe weather is in your area no matter where you are in the state.
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