Tornado drill set statwide for Severe Weather Awareness Week April 17-21
Severe Weather Awareness Week in Minnesota is April 17-21 and the statewide tornado drill is Thursday April 20 at 1:45 pm and 6:45pm. Minnesota cities will be sounding their severe weather sirens at that time, according to the Pope County Sheriffs Office.
Severe weather, especially tornadoes, can be dangerous. Below are some safety tips for avoiding that danger.
A Whirlwind of Safety Tips for Tornadoes!
Tornadoes are natures most violent storms. Spawned from powerful thunderstorms, tornadoes can cause fatalities and devastate a neighborhood in seconds. A tornado appears as a rotating, funnel-shaped cloud that extends from a thunderstorm to the ground with whirling winds that can reach 300 miles per hour. Damage paths can be in excess of one mile wide and 50 miles long. Every state is at some risk from this hazard. Some tornadoes are clearly visible, while rain or nearby low-hanging clouds obscure others. Occasionally, tornadoes develop so rapidly that little, if any, advance warning is possible. Before a tornado hits, the wind may die down and the air may become very still. A cloud of debris can mark the location of a tornado even if a funnel is not visible. Tornadoes generally occur near the trailing edge of a thunderstorm. It is not uncommon to see clear, sunlit skies behind a tornado.
WHAT CAN YOU DO: BEFORE A TORNADO
To begin preparing, you should build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan.
Listen to NOAA Weather Radio or to commercial radio or television newscasts for the latest information. In any emergency, always listen to the instructions given by local emergency management officials.
Be alert to changing weather conditions. Look for approaching storms.
Look for the following danger signs:
o Dark, often greenish sky
o Large hail
o A large, dark, low-lying cloud (particularly if rotating)
o Loud roar, similar to a freight train.
o If you see approaching storms or any of the danger signs, be prepared to take shelter immediately.
Quick facts you should know about tornadoes:
They may strike quickly, with little or no warning.
They may appear nearly transparent until dust and debris are picked up or a cloud forms in the funnel.
The average tornado moves Southwest to Northeast, but tornadoes have been known to move in any direction.
The average forward speed of a tornado is 30 mph, but may vary from stationary to 70 mph.
Tornadoes can accompany tropical storms and hurricanes as they move onto land.
Waterspouts are tornadoes that form over water.
Tornadoes are most frequently reported east of the Rocky Mountains during spring and summer months.
Peak tornado season in the southern states is March through May; in the northern states, it is late spring through early summer.
Tornadoes are most likely to occur between 3 pm and 9 pm, but can occur at any time.
KNOW THE TERMS:
Familiarize yourself with these terms to help identify a tornado hazard:
Tornado Watch - Tornadoes are possible. Remain alert for approaching storms. Watch the sky and stay tuned to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio or television for information.
Tornado Warning - A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. Take shelter immediately.
DURING A TORNADO
If you are under a tornado warning, seek shelter immediately! Most injuries associated with high winds are from flying debris, so remember to protect your head.
AFTER A TORNADO
Listen to local officials for updates and instructions.
Check-in with family and friends by texting or using social media.
Watch out for debris and downed power lines.
If you are trapped, do not move about or kick up dust. Tap on a pipe or wall or use a whistle, if you have one, so that rescuers can locate you.
Stay out of damaged buildings and homes until local authorities indicate it is safe.
Photograph the damage to your property in order to assist in filing an insurance claim.
Do what you can to prevent further damage to your property, (e.g., putting a tarp on a damaged roof), as insurance may not cover additional damage that occurs after the storm.
If your home is without power, use flashlights or battery-powered lanterns rather than candles to prevent accidental fires.
What to do during a tornado event
IN A HOUSE WITH A BASEMENT
Avoid windows. Get in the basement and under some kind of sturdy protection (heavy table or work bench), or cover yourself with a mattress or sleeping bag. Know where very heavy objects rest on the floor above (pianos, refrigerators, waterbeds, etc.) and do not go under them. They may fall down through a weakened floor and crush you.
IN A HOUSE WITH NO BASEMENT
Avoid windows. Go to the lowest floor, small center room (like a bathroom or closet), under a stairwell, or in an interior hallway with no windows. Crouch as low as possible to the floor, facing down; and cover your head with your hands. A bath tub may offer a shell of partial protection. Even in an interior room, you should cover yourself with some sort of thick padding (mattress, blankets, etc.), to protect against falling debris in case the roof and ceiling fail.
IN AN APARTMENT, DORM OR CONDO
If you live in an apartment that is on an upper floor, get to the lowest level of the building that you can immediately. This could be an underground parking garage or a neighbors first floor apartment. Then move to the most interior area possible, away from windows.
If you live in a high-rise apartment building, you may not have enough time to get to a lower level, so picking a place in the hallway in the center of your building is the best idea such as a stairwell. If that is not available then a closet, bathroom or interior hall without windows is the safest spot in your apartment during a tornado. Power loss during a tornado storm is common, so avoid elevators and keep a flashlight handy.
IN AN OFFICE BUILDING, HOSPITAL OR STORE
Follow instructions from facility managers. Go directly to an enclosed, windowless area in the center of the building -- away from glass and on the lowest floor possible. Then, crouch down and cover your head. Interior stairwells are usually good places to take shelter, and if not crowded, allow you to get to a lower level quickly. Stay off the elevators; you could be trapped in them if the power is lost.
IN A MOBILE HOME
Get out! Even if your home is tied down, you are probably safer outside, even if the only alternative is to seek shelter out in the open. Most tornadoes can destroy even tied-down mobile homes; and it is best not to play the low odds that yours will make it. If your community has a tornado shelter, go there fast. If there is a sturdy permanent building within easy running distance, seek shelter there. Otherwise, lie flat on low ground away from your home, protecting your head. If possible, use open ground away from trees and cars, which can be blown onto you.
AT A SCHOOL
Follow the drill! Go to the interior hall or room in an orderly way as you are told. Crouch low, head down, and protect the back of your head with your arms. Stay away from windows and large open rooms like gyms and auditoriums.
IN A CAR OR TRUCK
Vehicles are extremely dangerous in a tornado. If the tornado is visible, far away, and the traffic is light, you may be able to drive away from its path by moving at right angles to the tornado. Otherwise, park the car as quickly and safely as possible - - out of the traffic lanes. Get out and seek shelter in a sturdy building. If in the open country, run to low ground away from any cars (which may roll over on you). Lie flat and face-down, protecting the back of your head with your arms. Avoid seeking shelter under bridges, which can accelerate the wind while offering little protection against flying debris.
IN THE OPEN OUTDOORS
If possible, seek shelter in a sturdy building. If not, lie flat and face-down on low ground, protecting the back of your head with your arms. Get as far away from trees and cars as you can; they may be blown onto you in a tornado.
IN A SHOPPING MALL, LARGE STORE OR STADIUM
Listen for instructions from building security. Watch for others. Move as quickly as possible to an interior bathroom, storage room or other small enclosed area, away from windows. Move away from any glass.
IN A CHURCH OR THEATER
If possible, move quickly but orderly to an interior bathroom or hallway, away from windows. Crouch face-down and protect your head with your arms. If there is no time to do that, get under the seats or pews, protecting your head with your arms or hands.
- Be prepared when the power goes out -
Things you can do before a power outage:
Build or restock your emergency preparedness kit, including a flashlight, batteries, cash, and first aid supplies.
Make sure you have alternative charging methods for your phone or any device that requires power.
Charge cell phones and any battery powered devices.
Know where the manual release lever of your electric garage door opener is located and how to operate it.
Purchase ice or freeze water-filled plastic containers to help keep food cold during a temporary power outage.
Keep your cars gas tank full-gas stations rely on electricity to power their pumps. If you use your car to re-charge devices, do NOT keep the car running in a garage, partially enclosed space, or close to a home, this can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.
Learn about the emergency plans that have been established in your area by visiting your states or local website so you can locate the closest cooling and warming shelters.
If you rely on anything that is battery-operated or power dependent like a medical device determine a back-up plan.
What to do during a power outage:
Only use flashlights for emerge