2020 Severe Weather Awareness Week

This week is Severe Weather Awareness Week. Are you ready for severe weather? Each year, Homeland Security and Emergency Management in collaboration with the National Weather Service sponsors Severe Weather Awareness Week in Minnesota. The week is designed to refresh, remind and educate everyone about the seasonal threats from severe weather and how to avoid them. It’s also a great time to make and practice your emergency plan and build or refresh your emergency preparedness kit.  

Shawn M. Stoermann  MA, NRP, Brown County Emergency Manager provided the following educational items about seasonal severe weather threats. 

Wireless Emergency Alerts

In weather emergencies, warnings can save lives. But traditional warning methods such as television, radio and outdoor sirens don’t always reach everyone.

Emergency officials now have a new way to send warnings directly to cell phones in affected areas — Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs).

These short messages may look like a text message, but unlike texts, which are sent directly to your phone number, these warnings will be broadcast to all phones within range of designated cell towers. 

The alerts will tell you the type of warning, the affected area, and the duration. You’ll need to turn to other sources, such as television or your NOAA All-Hazards radio, to get more detailed information about what is happening and what actions you should take.

Siren Activation Information

All cities in Brown County have outdoor siren coverage.

The sirens will sound upon direction by authorized authorities in the event of the following:

•Severe Weather (Tornados, Severe Thunderstorms, etc.)

•Any civil emergency

The sirens will sound initially and will sound for about 3 minutes.  They may be reactivated again during the warning.

If you hear a warning siren, you should do the following:

•Take shelter

•Listen to your TV, Radio, or Weather Radio for important information

Sirens are tested the 1st Wednesday of each month at 1 p.m. (March-November)

Lightning Safety Tips 

•No place outside is safe when thunderstorms are in the area!

•If you hear thunder, lightning is close enough to strike you. 

•When you hear thunder, immediately move to safe shelter: a substantial building with electricity or plumbing or an enclosed, metal-topped vehicle with windows up. 

•Stay in safe shelter at least 30 minutes after you hear the last sound of thunder. 

Indoor Lightning Safety

•Stay off corded phones, computers and other electrical equipment that put you in direct contact with electricity. 

•Avoid plumbing, including sinks, baths and faucets. 

•Stay away from windows and doors, and stay off porches. 

•Do not lie on concrete floors, and do not lean against concrete walls. 

Last Resort Outdoor Risk Reduction Tips

If you are caught outside with no safe shelter anywhere nearby the following actions may reduce your risk:

•Immediately get off elevated areas such as hills, mountain ridges or peaks 

•Never lie flat on the ground 

•Never shelter under an isolated tree 

•Never use a cliff or rocky overhang for shelter 

•Immediately get out and away from ponds, lakes and other bodies of water 

•Stay away from objects that conduct electricity (barbed wire fences, power lines, windmills, etc.) 

Myths and Facts About Lightning

Myth: If it is not raining, there is no danger from lightning. 

Fact: Lightning often strikes away from rainfall. It may occur as far as ten miles away from any rainfall. 

 Myth: Rubber soles on shoes or rubber tires on a car will protect you from being injured by lightning. 

Fact: Rubber provides no protection from lightning. However, the steel frame of a hard-topped vehicle provides some protection if you are not touching metal.  

Myth: People struck by lightning carry an electrical charge and should not be touched. 

Fact: Lightning victims carry no electrical charge and should be attended to immediately.  

Myth: Heat lightning occurs on very hot summer days and poses no threat.

Fact: What is referred to as heat lightning is actually lightning from a thunderstorm too far away for thunder to be heard. However, the storm may be moving in your direction.

Flooding, Flash Floods 

Nationally, floods claim nearly 200 lives each year, force 300,000 persons from their homes and result in property damage in excess of $2 billion. In Minnesota, floods kill more people than any other weather event; 15 people have died in floods since 1993. 

About 75 percent of flash-flood deaths occur at night. Half of the victims die in automobiles or other vehicles. Many deaths occur when people drive around road barricades that clearly indicate that the road is washed out ahead.  

For extensive information, resources and data about flooding in the U.S. from the National Weather Service (NWS) download the NWS Information book: Floods, The Awesome Power or visit the NWS Flood Safety website.

Statewide Tornado Drill

In Minnesota, the 2020 statewide tornado drill is scheduled for Thursday, April 16. Statewide Tornado Drill will only occur at 1:45 p.m. 

In response to the COVID-19 issues.  Please keep social distancing guidelines in mind.  For businesses, you may want to post and send e-mail reminders on where to go versus actually performing the drill.

Springfield Advance-Press

13 S. Marshall Avenue PO Box 78 Springfield, MN 56087