From the look of the outdoors as of late last week, one might wonder why on earth anyone would be talking about severe weather.While winter weather certainly was the talk of the town for most of last week, we all know sooner or later winter weather is going to end and is going to be re-placed by discussions about flooding, thunderstorms, tornadoes and other severe weather related topics.With that in mind, the Homeland Security and Emergency Man-agement department of the Minnesota Depart-ment of Public Safety annually schedules Severe Weather Awareness Week, which is this week.According to Jim Sandgren, Redwood County emergency management director, Redwood County is going to be participanting in the week by taking part in one event in particular – Tornado Drill Day, scheduled for this Thursday.As part of Tornado Drill Day, two drills are being held across the state. The first is at 1:45 p.m. with the second being held at 6:55 p.m. Sandgren wanted to remind the public these are drills.“The drills are held at these times to allow everyone a chance to know what to do at their places of work during the day and then with their families at night,” Sandgren said, adding most schools also participate in the tornado drill as part of their school day Thursday.While the drill itself has been going on for some time, Sandgren said this year is going to be a bit different, as it allows the county to try out its new ARMER communication system in a practice setting to see just how well the system is doing.The system has been tested once, said Sandgren, during the regular first of the month check. He said the system did what it was supposed to, and he said the next test hopefully continues to demonstrate that initial system success.All of the emergency management personnel in the county have been given updated radio equipment.The new equipment allows for much quicker communication, said Sandgren, especially compared to years ago when he worked in the county’s dispatch center.“In those days you had a list of people you called, and you never knew for sure if you would even reach them,” he said, adding it typically took long enough to get through the list that any weather was already on those being called or had moved out of the area.What took 25 minutes to half an hour was cut dramatically when radios were first given to emergency personnel in each community, and Sandgren said that time has been cut even more dramatically with the ARMER system.He also said it takes much less time to activate sirens in a community, with the time to have them sounding taking less then three minutes.Sandgren reminded the public the sirens in a community (all Redwood County towns have at least one siren, as does Plum Creek Park) are not intended to be heard inside homes. It is very important, he added, for the public to be aware of what is going on, and getting a basic National Weather Service radio is a good step toward being prepared.Sandgren is offering a Skywarn class April 23 at 7 p.m. in the Sanborn fire hall, and all who have an interest in severe weather are encouraged to attend. Those who plan to go are asked to contact Sandgren at (507) 637-4035 sometime this week to let him know.A similar Skywarn class is being offered in Renville County April 22 at 7 p.m. in the Buffalo Lake Community Center. Those who plan to attend are asked to contact Mike Hennen at (320) 523-3838.