With the swing in temperatures in recent days, the topic of extreme weather has been on the minds of many Minnesotans.
It’s only fitting then that Monday, April 17 marks Severe Weather Awareness Week, an opportunity for Minnesotans to learn about severe weather and how to stay safe when it strikes. Severe weather can be unpredictable and deadly; being prepared can help save lives and reduce the risks from severe weather events.
To help residents embrace preparedness, the Homeland Security and Emergency Management division (HSEM) will be focusing on a different severe weather theme each day and posting information and safety tips on the HSEM Facebook and website.
The Severe Weather Awareness Week themes are:
- Monday — Alerts and Warnings
- Technology at our fingertips gives us advanced warnings of impending severe weather. Knowing how to receive these warnings is essential to your safety.
- Subscribing to Personal Weather Alerts on your mobile devices will keep you in the know when the National Weather Service issues advisories, watches and warnings.
- Outdoor Warning Sirens may be activated in the event of a tornado, high winds or severe thunderstorm warnings. Each county has its own policy on siren activation. Knowing that policy will help you make the right decision in a severe weather event.
- Advisory, Watch and Warning are terms used by the National Weather Service when severe weather strikes. Knowing the difference will keep you informed. A weather radio is one of the best ways to stay tuned-in to dangerous weather.
- Tuesday — Severe Weather, Lightning and Hail
- When a severe thunderstorm strikes, it’s best to seek shelter immediately due to various kinds of threats that come with it.
- Hail causes nearly $1 billion in damages every year. While it’s normally small in size, large hail stones can be as big as a grapefruit and travel faster than 100 miles per hour.
- Every thunderstorm produces lighting. No place outside is safe when thunderstorms are in the area. If you hear thunder, lightning is close enough to strike you and you should immediately seek shelter.
- Wednesday — Floods
- Flash flooding can happen at any time during a thunderstorm. That is why it’s important for families to prepare ahead of time. This includes installing sump pumps, elevating appliances, and getting flood insurance.
- When flooding occurs, be prepared to evacuate and seek higher ground. Most flash-flood deaths occur at night when it’s difficult to gauge just how deep the water is.
- Never walk or drive through a flooded area. Six inches of water can reach the bottom of a car. Two feet of rushing water can carry most vehicles, including SUV’s. Remember, “Turn Around, Don’t Drown!”
- Thursday — Tornadoes (with statewide tornado drills)
- The statewide tornado drills take place at 1:45 pm and 6:45 pm. This allows people at work and school to test their emergency plans during the day and families to test them at night.
- Alerts for both simulated tornado drills will be issued over weather radios, TV and radio stations. Outdoor warning sirens will also activate for about three minutes. There is no all-clear siren.
- This is a good time to determine the area in your home, school, or business where you would take shelter in a tornado. A basement is best, but if that doesn’t exist, find an enclosed, windowless area in the center of a building.
- Friday — Extreme Heat
- The National Weather service will issue excessive heat warnings when heat index values rise. The Heat Index is a measure of how hot it really feels when relative humidity is factored in with the actual air temperature.
- When the temperature rises, do not leave children or pets inside parked vehicles. Hyperthermia can occur even on a mild day.
- Check on home-bound loved ones and neighbors who may not have access to fans or air conditioning.
- During an excessive heat warning: drink more fluids if you have to be outside, get out of the sun, limit outdoor activity, rest often and stay inside if possible
More information can be found on these SWAW-related web pages: main weather safety page, SWAW page, and Tornado Drill Day page. View interactive weather forecasts, maps, and more at hennepinwestmesonet.org.
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