Be prepared for severe weather

By: 
Chuck Kajer, The New Prague Times

This is Severe Weather Awareness Week. From April 9-13, Minnesotans are asked to learn more about severe weather and the warnings that are given by the National Weather Service.

People like to joke about the accuracy of weather forecasts, but in reality weather forecasting has come a long way over the last 50 years. Meteorologists are able to observe weather patterns and predict the likelihood of severe weather several days ahead of time. The accuracy increases the closer you get to a weather event. This gives people time to plan, time to prepare and, in the event of a severe storm, time to take shelter.

How important is an early warning? In the event of a tornado, even a few minutes can make a difference in finding safe shelter. When a tornado siren sounds, it means a tornado has been spotted in the area and people need to take shelter. Contrary to popular belief, these sirens are not meant to be heard indoors - they are to warn people who are outside that severe weather is threatening and they should take shelter.

Severe Weather Awareness is not just about tornadoes, though. People also need to be aware of what to do and how to protect themselves in the event of a severe storm with lightning, wind and hail; what to do in the event of flash flooding and how to stay cool and safe in the event of extreme heat. Each of these topics are addressed on different days during Severe Weather Awareness Week on the National Weather Service website.

On Thursday, April 12, there will be a statewide tornado drill. Simulated watches and warnings will take place beginning at 1 p.m. and again at 6:45 p.m. This would be a good time to take note of what you would do in the event of a severe storm.

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