Prepare for storm season with Severe Weather Awareness Week

With spring’s return, Severe Weather Awareness Week April 17-21 offers the chance for people to think about what they’ll do in the event of a tornado or dangerous thunderstorm. Knowing what to do and making a few simple preparations can help protect families if severe weather strikes.

Tornado drills April 20

As part of Severe Weather Awareness Week, two tornado drills will take place Thursday, April 20. The first drill will be statewide at 1:45 p.m. to allow homeowners, schools, retail businesses, hospitals and other organizations to practice their emergency plans. The City of Minneapolis will activate its outdoor warning sirens at 6:45 p.m. to allow families and second-shift workers to practice their severe weather responses; the City encourages them to take a few minutes that evening to talk at home, work or school about where to take shelter in severe weather.

Home and personal preparedness

Outdoor warning sirens are for people who are outdoors, and the sirens may not be audible inside. For a heads up indoors about an imminent weather danger, families should consider using the National Weather Service’s NOAA Weather Radio or subscribing to an electronic weather alert service that sends notices by email or text message. Find more information here about signing up for cellphone alerts and downloading smartphone apps.

A simple way to plan ahead for a severe weather emergency is by creating a home emergency kit with these items in a bag or box stored in the basement or home shelter site:

  • Bottled water.
  • Non-perishable snacks and/or ready-to-eat food (include can opener if kit contains canned food).
  • Battery-powered radio.
  • Flashlight and extra batteries.
  • Whistle to signal for help.
  • First aid kit.
  • Dust mask.
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation.
  • Local maps.
  • Cellphone with chargers.
  • List of key phone numbers (insurance agent, doctor, etc.).
  • A photocopy of driver’s licenses or State ID cards.

What to do if severe weather is approaching

  • Listen for alerts and warnings on NOAA Weather Radio, local TV, local radio or the weather channel.
  • Listen for outdoor warning sirens if outdoors.
  • Take shelter if a warning is issued or outdoor warning sirens sound. Find more information about taking shelter here.

Multi-language videos

The City of Minneapolis partnered with ECHO Minnesota to produce a series of multi-language videos about how to use NOAA Weather Radios and other precautions to take during tornadoes, thunderstorms, flash floods and snowstorms.

Learn more about weather safety

Electricity outages

When the power goes out because of a storm, it is important for electricity customers to know if they are personally affected. An Xcel Energy outage map displays information on the number of customers with power out and anticipated time for it to be restored. Customers can even sign up ahead of time for outage notifications through the My Account feature on the Xcel Energy website.

Xcel Energy can get a jump on restoring power when customers report outages at 1-800-895-1999. Once they have identified the cause of the problem, Xcel Energy can give an estimated restoration time.

Find more information about Minnesota Severe Weather Awareness Week here.