CHANHASSEN, Minn. - Don't worry, the sky isn't falling.
Emergency tornado sirens will blare across Minnesota and Wisconsin Thursday as part of the National Weather Service's Severe Weather Awareness week.
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety's Department of Homeland Security is also taking an active role in making sure state residents are prepared and have a plan for all types of weather emergencies, from tornadoes and flash floods to heat waves.
The first will sound at 1:45 p.m., scheduled so schools and businesses can execute their emergency response plan. The second will go off at 6:55, so families and second shift workers can rehearse what to do in case of severe weather.
A reminder to residents: Counties and cities own the sirens, and therefore decide how and when to activate them.
There are many different policies regarding siren activation that are used by the various cities and counties. Some will activate sirens across the entire county for tornado warnings only. Others will activate sirens countywide for tornado warnings and all severe thunderstorm warnings.
Sirens normally sound for about three minutes, and then go silent. It is rare to keep the sirens sounding for the entire warning, since that would cause the backup battery to run out, which would be critical in the event that power goes out.
Residents are also reminded that there is no such thing as an "all-clear" for storms.
Here is a schedule for the day's events from the National Weather Service.
- 1:00 p.m. - The National Weather Service will issue a simulated tornado watch for Minnesota and Wisconsin.
- 1:45 p.m. - The National Weather Service will issue a simulated tornado warning for Minnesota and 9 counties of western Wisconsin (Barron, Chippewa, Dunn, Eau Claire, Pepin, Pierce, Polk, Rusk and St Croix). Note that most cities and counties will activate outdoor warning siren systems.
- 1:45 p.m. - The National Weather Service will issue a simulated tornado warning for Minnesota counties. Note that most cities and counties will activate outdoor warning siren systems.
- 2:00 p.m. - The National Weather Service will issue an "End of Test" message using the Severe Weather Statement product. It should be stated that outdoor warning sirens will not be sounded again for this all clear, nor will there be any warning tone on NOAA Weather Radio.
- 6:55 p.m. - Another simulated tornado warning will be issued for 81 participating counties in Minnesota. Those counties not participating are: Aitkin, Becker, Houston, Kittson, Norman, and Wilkin. It appears the sirens will not sound in Wisconsin.
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