Severe Weather Awareness Week schedule of topics by day
Severe Weather Awareness Week language graphic

What is weather?

Weather is the mix of events that happen each day in our atmosphere. Weather is different in different parts of the world and changes over minutes, hours, days and weeks. Most weather happens in the troposphere, the part of Earth’s atmosphere that is closest to the ground.

Severe Weather is any dangerous meteorological phenomenon with the potential to cause damage, serious social disruption, or loss of human life.

Severe Weather Awareness Week is a week Minnesota sets aside each April as a good reminder of what to know and do before severe weather happens, typically May thru October.

Emergency Planning

Family emergency planning can be the key to surviving an emergency. That's why it's important to talk to your family to prepare them for various emergencies. Ensure the whole family is a part of the planning process so that the plan addresses everyone's needs. Recognize that in extreme situations, city emergency resources may be limited. Be prepared to care for yourself and your family for at least 3 days.

  • Designate a location to meet in case it is impossible to return home or if you have to evacuate. Choose two - one near your home and one outside the neighborhood. Make sure your family knows the address and phone number of both locations.
  • Designate on an out-of-area contact person. This person should be far enough away that it is unlikely he or she would be affected by the same emergency. Family members should call this person to report their location if they cannot reach each other. Provide your contact person with important names and numbers so they can assist in keeping others posted on your situation.
  • Create an Emergency Supply Kit and a Go Bag. Make sure that all members of your household know where these supplies are.
  • Keep a flashlight, whistle, and a pair of shoes where you go during a tornado warning, in case you need to climb out over debris, power goes out, or you need to signal for help.
  • Determine the best escape routes from your home. Identify at least two separate escape routes and practice using them.
  • Locate your gas main and other utilities. Make sure the entire household knows where they are and how to operate them.
  • Familiarize yourself with emergency plans at places that are a part of your everyday life, such as school, work, church, daycare, etc.
  • Refill medications as early as you're able to and set aside at least 3 days worth of doses for your emergency kit.  Keep copies of your prescriptions electronically, either on your phone, in the cloud, or through an app like MyChart or Express Scripts.
  • While making your plan, consider the special needs of children, seniors, persons with disabilities, non-English speakers, and pets in your household.  Don't forget about diapers, formula, pet food, and comfort items.
  • Make copies of all important documents and keep them off-site in a secure location. Documents to include: passports, birth certificates, social security cards, wills, deeds, driver's licenses, financial documents, insurance information, and prescriptions.
  • Catalog and photograph valuables. Keep these in a fireproof safe on a thumb drive or external disk drive, or stored in a cloud-based service.
  • Minnesota is the Land of 10,000 Lakes.  If you plan to be on a boat enjoying one of these 10,000 Lakes, make sure you monitor weather conditions and have a plan to stay safe, get back to shore before the storm arrives, and what to do to be safe while you wait for the storm to pass.

Preparing in a Digital World

Weather Safety and Preparedness

Statewide Tornado Drills 

Outdoor Warning Siren Graphic

The most important events during Severe Weather Awareness Week are the two annual statewide tornado drills. 

 In Minnesota, the 2024​ statewide tornado drills are scheduled for Thursday, April 11 at 1:45 p.m. and 6:45 p.m.  

 Outdoor warning sirens will sound in a simulated tornado warning.

  • The first drill is intended for schools, institutions, and businesses.
  • The evening drill is intended for second shift workers and families at home or activities.
photograph of a 4x4 piece of lumber storm debris embedded into the ground
This photo was shared with us by colleagues near Gettysburg, PA, of a 4x4 piece of lumber that became storm debris.  The force of the winds caused it to impale itself several feet into the ground.

Interested in learning more or wanting a presentation to a group to learn more about weather and preparedness?  We'd love to hear from you and see how we can help you learn how to be safe from weather hazards and other risks.  

Email us and put "Public Outreach" in the subject line

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Last Edited: June 4, 2024