Minnesota Severe Weather Awareness Week rolls into Tornado Drill Day with the traditional two drills being held across the state.  We learned Tuesday for the first time since the two drills have been conducted Rice County will be participating in only one drill.

The afternoon drill consisting of a sounding of the sirens at 1:00 p.m. announcing a mock tornado watch.  During that time if a real watch were implemented you would want to make sure you knew where everyone in your household was and possibly bring items that could blow in your yard into the home or garage.

A mock tornado warning will be issued 1:45 p.m. with counties encouraged to sound their outdoor warning sirens.  Another warning will be issued at 6:45 p.m.

Rice County is only participating in the afternoon drill.

Statewide the National Weather Service has decided not to set off the weather radios or an Emergency Alert System (EAS) message scrolling across your television screen due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

During our special Severe Weather Awareness Week show Tuesday Goodhue County Emergency Management Director Diane RIchter-Biewer said they would participate in both drills.  Rice County Emergency Management Director Jennifer Hauer-Schmitz and Faribault Emergency Management Director Dustin Dienst joined Biwer in reminding us. "There is no all-clear siren."

Here are some National Weather Service tornado safety tips:

In a house with a basement:

  • Avoid windows.
  • Get in the basement under some kind of sturdy protection (heavy table or work bench), or cover yourself with mattress or sleeping bag.

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 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....  This protects 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 neighbor's first floor apartment.  Then move to the most interior area possible, away from windows.
  • Avoid elevators and keep a flashlight handy.

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.

Here is a National Weather Service checklist.

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