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Be prepared: Sheriff reminds residents to observe Severe Weather Awareness Week

Strong wind in 2012 fell this tree in Farmington. File photo

Dakota County Sheriff Tim Leslie is reminding citizens that the week of April 17-20 is Severe Weather Awareness Week.

This event is sponsored by the National Weather Service (NWS) and is intended to raise public awareness entering the severe weather season. As part of Severe Weather Awareness Week, two tornado drills will be held on April 20. Schools and businesses are encouraged to practice emergency plans during the statewide tornado drill at 1:45 p.m. Thursday. A second drill at 6:45 p.m. will take place in most counties, including Dakota County, to allow families and second-shift workers to practice sheltering plans.

Historically, early springtime is "flood season" in Minnesota. However, severe weather hazards can happen anytime and anywhere, as experienced on March 6, 2017, when two separate tornadoes touched down in Minnesota. These were the two earliest tornadoes ever to strike in Minnesota. In the past 10 years, more than 55 people have died and dozens more injured as a result of weather-related events.

In Dakota County, the siren policy states that outdoor warning devices (sirens) will be activated when the National Weather Service has issued a tornado warning or a severe thunderstorm warning with wind speeds of at least 70 mph.

The National Weather Service and local media do an excellent job of notification for incoming severe storms. The sirens are just another notification tool to advise citizens to go inside and turn on a radio or TV to see where the storms are and determine their best course of action. During severe weather season, always be aware of the weather conditions around you. Be ready to seek shelter when the weather turns nasty. Have an emergency kit at home and ensure all family members know where the kit is located. To help you put together an emergency kit, visit the following: www.ready.gov/build-a-kit/

Follow the sheriff's office on Twitter at @DakotaMNSheriff and on Facebook at Dakota County Sheriff's Office.

For additional information on Severe Weather Awareness Week, please visit the state of Minnesota's Homeland Security and Emergency Management website

With questions, contact Dakota County emergency preparedness coordinator Sgt. Jim Iliff at 651-438-4703 or by email at James.Iliff@co.dakota.mn.us.

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