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Tornado Drill Scheduled During Severe Weather Awareness Week

This is Severe Weather Awareness Week. Dakota County Sheriff Dave Bellows provides background on and tips about preparing for severe weather in Minnesota.

Editor's notes:

• The following information is from the Dakota County Sheriff's Office.

Inver Grove Heights Patch will will provide weather alerts as they happen throughout the severe weather season.

Dakota County Sheriff Dave Bellows wants to remind residents that this week  [April 16-20] is Severe Weather Awareness Week. This event is sponsored by the National Weather Service and is intended to raise everyone’s awareness as we enter the severe weather season.

As part of Severe Weather Awareness Week, a tornado drill will be held on Thursday, April 19.

Schools and businesses are encouraged to practice emergency plans during the statewide tornado drill at 1:45 p.m. on Thursday. A second drill at 6:55 p.m. will take place in most counties to allow families and second-shift workers to practice sheltering plans.

In Dakota County, the policy is to sound outdoor warning devices (sirens) when the NWS has issued a severe thunderstorm warning for cities in Dakota County. The sirens are just another notification tool to advise citizens to turn on a radio or TV to see where the storms are and determine their best course of action.

Severe thunderstorms can generate:

• High winds: Winds can be in excess of 65 miles per hour and cause structural damage.

• Hail: Severe thunderstorms can produce damaging hail. Hail can be as big as tennis balls.

• Heavy rain: This could cause flash flooding to occur.

• Lightning: Lightning from severe thunderstorms could cause more deaths than hurricanes and tornadoes on an annual basis.

• Tornadoes: Tornadoes can form on the back side of severe thunderstorms after the high winds and heavy rains.

During severe weather season, always be aware of the weather conditions around you. Be ready to seek shelter when the weather turns nasty. Have an emergency kit at home and ensure all family members know where the kit is located.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has created a guide, available by clicking here, to help you put together an emergency kit.

Historically, early spring is “flood season” in Minnesota. But in 1998, it was late March when violent storms brought 13 tornadoes to the cities of St. Peter and Comfrey. The tornadoes that struck Rogers on Sept. 16, 2006, and Hugo on May 25, 2008, also prove that these early season storms can be deadly.

Between March and September of 2010, Minnesota experienced a record 113 tornadoes (the most in the U.S.), with a total of 48 on a single day in June.

Dakota County experienced four tornadoes in 2010, one of them being in Farmington on Aug. 13. The NWS categorized this tornado as an EF 1, with winds estimated at 105 miles per hour and a debris path of 1.5 miles long. The other three tornadoes occurred in rural Dakota County.

Minnesota had 31 confirmed tornadoes in 2011. On May 22, northwest Minneapolis and Fridley suffered an EF 1 tornado with winds of 86 to 110 miles per hour, resulting in one fatality and significant damage.

Weather hazards can happen anytime and anywhere in Minnesota, and the key to maintaining your personal safety and well-being is to be aware of the threats, be prepared, and know how to receive and respond to warnings.

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