Tornado Drill Thursday, April 18
Because severe weather can threaten the lives and property of anyone at any time, April 15-19 has been proclaimed Severe Weather Awareness Week. Stearns County Emergency Management wants to take this time to remind its citizens of the importance of understanding severe weather and being personally prepared.
Since 2000 disasters have claimed the lives of 21 Minnesotans and caused more than $373 million in federally declared damages.
“It takes the whole community to prepare for, respond to and recover from tornadoes, straight-line winds, floods and heat waves,” said Erin Hausauer, Director of Stearns County Emergency Management. “Every family and business should take this opportunity to put weather emergency plans into action. Tornadoes follow no pattern, and dangerous thunderstorms are common in Minnesota. There’s no substitute for practice when the real thing comes along.”
Stearns County Emergency Management in conjunction with the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEM) and the National Weather Service sponsor Severe Weather Awareness Week annually to promote weather knowledge and planning. Each day of Severe Weather Awareness Week is devoted to a specific topic to help keep citizens ready.
Monday -- Alerts and Warnings
• Today’s technology provides valuable notification about approaching severe weather better than ever. Late last year Stearns County implemented a new citizen emergency alert system that allows the County to communicate essential information to residents within minutes of an emergency, such as severe weather (summer and winter), flooding, public health concerns, environmental issues, and public safety matters affecting the area where they live. Citizens must sign up on the Stearns County website at co.stearns.mn.us, to receive the time-sensitive emergency notifications and other critical community information either on their home or cell phone, by e-mail or text.
• The HSEM website has information explaining their new Wireless Emergency Alerts that provide tornado warnings on cell phones amongst other things.
• Learn when and why your community sounds its outdoor warning sirens and what action to take when they are activated. Stearns County’s severe weather warning system video contains often misunderstood information about the outdoor warning siren system. The video can be found on the County’s website and YouTube page.
• Review what action to take if you are driving during a tornado warning. Severe Weather Awareness Week is a great opportunity to talk with your children and elderly parents to ensure they know proper procedures.
Tuesday – Severe Weather, Lightning and Hail
• Every thunderstorm produces lightning. Learn the myths and facts surrounding lightning as well as more on severe storms and hail by going to the HSEM website.
Wednesday – Floods
• Spring flooding and flash flooding combine to produce some of the most dangerous and costly disasters in Minnesota. Find an important checklist and learn how to prepare for and respond to flooding on the HSEM website.
Thursday – Statewide tornado drill day
• Review tornado safety information on the website. At 1:45 p.m. - the National Weather Service will issue a simulated tornado warning. Businesses, schools and local agencies are encouraged to use this warning as a time to review emergency procedures. At 6:55 p.m.
the National Weather Service will issue a second simulated tornado warning. The second drill is issued to allow families to practice their emergency plan at home.
Friday – Extreme Heat
• Heat-related illness accounted for 35 deaths in Minnesota from 2000-2010. The MDH website includes an Extreme Heat Toolkit to help communities better prepare for the hot summer months.
Stearns County will be posting severe weather awareness tips and information on its Facebook and Twitter sites throughout the next couple weeks.