In conjunction with Severe Weather Awareness Week in Minnesota, a pair of state-wide tornado drills will be conducted today.
The first will be at 1:45 p.m., with the second at 6:45 p.m. The first is designed to allow schools and businesses to practice a tornado drill, while the second is designed for families.
In both instances, outdoor warning sirens will sound and NOAA weather radios will sound a simulated tornado warning.
The drill is held annually to remind people of procedures they should follow in the event of an actual tornado emergency. Schools will practice tornado safety procedures and businesses should review their tornado safety plans. The evening drill gives families a chance to discuss safety procedures and places in the home to potentially seek shelter in the event of a tornado.
Severe Weather Awareness Week also is a good time to remind people of the differences between a watch and a warning, when each are issued by the nearest National Weather Service office. In Cottonwood County, warnings are issued from the Sioux Falls office of the National Weather Service. Most severe weather watches are issued from the Storm Prediction Center, located in Norman, Okla.
A watch means conditions may be favorable for the development of severe weather. That severe weather likely is not occurring yet, but could develop quickly within a designated watch area. A warning means that severe weather is currently occurring or is imminent. In the event of a severe thunderstorm or tornado warning, it means that a storm is underway and about to impact an area, and people should seek shelter.