Are You Ready? Use this week to get informed on how to be ready, then set and go!
Thunderstorm season is just around the corner and it is up to all of us to be aware and be prepared for what mother nature throws at us.
Thunderstorms bring lightning, heavy rain, hail, damaging winds and tornadoes. These hazards can happen any time anywhere, so it is up to us to know before we go.
Learn more about Severe Weather Awareness Week in Minnesota and Wisconsin:
The highlight of the week will be the tornado drill on Thursday, April 24th when the National Weather Service offices in Minnesota and Wisconsin issue mock tornado watches and tornado warnings. The watch will be issued at 1:30 pm and the warnings will be issued at 1:45 pm. In Minnesota an evening mock tornado warning will be issued at 6:55 pm. Use these drills to practice what you would do if it were a real tornado.
NWS Severe Weather Products
Hazardous Weather Outlook (HWO)
Severe Thunderstorm Watch
Flash Flood Watch
Severe Thunderstorm Warning (SVR)
Flash Flood Warning (FFW)
Tornado Warning (TOR)
A thunderstorm is defined as severe if it produces damaging wind gusts (58 mph or higher), large hail (one inch or larger in diameter), a tornado, or a combination of these elements. Of course thunderstorms also produce deadly lightning and heavy rains. Most thunderstorms do not become severe, but for the smaller percentage that do - Severe Thunderstorm Warnings are issued.
Severe thunderstorms can occur at any time of the year, day or night. The peak season for thunderstorms is from April through September, and during the afternoon or evening hours.
The most common type of severe weather is damaging thunderstorm wind, also known as "straight line wind". Strong thunderstorm wind gusts can reach hurricane force and in extreme cases - 100+ mph. Wind damage can be extensive and affect entire counties instead of narrow tracks like tornadoes. Objects like branches, trees, barns, outbuildings, high-profile vehicles, and power lines/poles can be toppled or destroyed, but as wind gusts increase you can have damage to roofs, windows, or homes.
Large hail is also common and can produce tremendous property damage. Usually large hail does not become life threatening unless people are outdoors without shelter. Hail is considered severe when it reaches the size of a quarter or larger.
Have a good source of weather information. When a severe thunderstorm moves into your area, or a warning is issued for your county, take action to protect yourself and property:
For a full link to Flood Safety, click here.
Flash flooding, one of the leading thunderstorm killers, is a rapid rise in small creeks or streams, usually from excessive thunderstorm rains. Flash flooding can also occur with ice jams on rivers or if a dam fails.
Respect the force of flowing water. Many automobiles become bouyant in as little as 2 feet of water, and you can lose control of your vehicle in as little as 6 inches. Even pickup trucks or SUVs may begin to float in relatively shallow water given the size of the tire. Most flash flood related deaths occur from people driving into high water. This is especially dangerous at night when people may not see the flooding and simply drive into it.
When flash flooding is observed, or a warning is issued for your county, take action to protect yourself and property:
A tornado is a violently rotating column of air in contact with the ground. The peak tornado months are May and June (July is 3rd), but tornadoes can occur any time of year if conditions are right. Peak tornado time is 3:00 to 9:00 PM, but they can occur day or night, and may be hard to spot or wrapped in rain at times.
Have a good source of weather information. Consider NOAA Weather Radio. If a tornado or funnel cloud is spotted, or a warning is issued for your county, take action to protect yourself.