Are you ready for severe weather?

Each year, Homeland Security Emergency Management, in collaboration with the National Weather Service and 16 state and local agencies and organizations, sponsors Severe Weather Awareness Week in Minnesota.

The week is designed to refresh, remind and educate everyone about the seasonal threats from severe weather and how to avoid them. It’s also a great time to make and practice your emergency plan and build or refresh your emergency preparedness kit.

The most important events during Severe Weather Awareness Week are the two annual statewide tornado drills. These drills are scheduled for Thursday, April 12 at 1:45 p.m. and 6:45 p.m.

Counties may choose to opt out of the drills if actual severe weather is possible in the area. Outdoor warning sirens and NOAA Weather radios will sound in a simulated tornado warning.

The first drill is intended for institutions and businesses.

The evening drill is intended for second shift workers and families.

If you are interested in some ideas on how you, your family, business or your community can participate in Severe Weather Awareness Week, visit the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Web site online at

According to the National Weather Service, Minnesota experiences an average of 40 tornadoes per year. In 2012, 37 twisters touched down. A record was set in 2010 with 104 tornadoes across the state. Understanding this threat and knowing what to do when a tornado is approaching can save lives.

Information provided by the National Weather Service of Minnesota

Photo courtesy of the National Severe Storms Laboratory