Severe Weather Awareness Week
Minnesota had 37 tornadoes in 2016, two of them occurring in Beltrami County. Minnesota Severe Weather Awareness Week is April 17th-21st, 2017 and Emergency Management Offices across the state are encouraging all residents and visitors to familiarize themselves with the hazards that summer season brings. The hazards are more than just the obvious like damaging windstorms and tornadoes; heat related injuries and illness could be life threatening if left untreated or appropriate preventative actions are not taken. Each day of the week has a specific summer hazard topic. In addition a tornado drill is scheduled for Thursday, April 20th.
Knowing the difference between a watch and warning is important and is the subject for Monday. Watches mean that conditions are favorable for severe weather and warnings mean it is occurring, likely to occur or imminent. In addition to watches and warnings, other notifications such as advisories or special weather statements may be issued for significant weather that doesn’t meet warning criteria.
Severe weather and summer storms are covered on Tuesday. Hail is an indication of strong thunderstorms and can cause extensive damage, especially in agricultural areas. Hail causes nearly a billion dollars in damage a year and can range in size from pea size to larger than softball. Lightning strikes kill around 100 people a year, often caught outdoors or seeking cover under trees. Remember the slogan, “When thunder roars, go indoors!” You do not need to have tornadoes to have damaging winds. Beltrami County experiences several high-end wind events each decade, resulting in widespread power outages, downed trees and property damage.
Wednesday’s topic is flooding. Floods can be deadly, especially for those traveling through flash floods. Flood deaths occur most frequently at night, and half of those deaths occurred in vehicles. Flowing water can sweep you off your feet at a depth of only six inches. Never drive through flooded roadways, a foot of water will float most vehicles.
Two tornado drills will be conducted on Thursday, the first at 1:45PM and the second at 6:55PM. Outdoor warning sirens will be sounded. Emergency Management Offices across the state encourage everyone to participate in the tornado drills. The first one is intended for practice at the workplace or at school and the later drill is for second shift workers and for families to practice at home. Beltrami County’s outdoor warning siren policy indicates sirens will be sounded for intense severe thunderstorms with wind in excess of 70MPH and tornado warnings.
While uncommon, temperatures approach or exceed 100 degrees in Minnesota and when combined with excessive humidity can result in dangers conditions. Friday’s topic is dedicated to heat related illness and injuries. Your body’s cooling abilities are reduced during excessive heat and humidity and can result in injury or even death if preventative actions are not taken. During extreme heat, take it easy and drink plenty of hydrating fluids. Avoid rigorous activity during the warmest periods of the day. Never leave children or pets in vehicles, they act like greenhouses in the sun.