Minnesota Severe Weather Awareness Week set for April 17-21

With the snow melting and temperatures rising, the Beltrami County Sheriff's Office offers tips on how to prepare for severe weather ahead of Minnesota Severe Weather Awareness Week, set for April 17-21.

Minnesota Severe Weather Awareness Week is set for April 17-21.
Pioneer file photo

BEMIDJI — With the snow melting and temperatures rising, the Beltrami County Sheriff's Office offers tips on how to prepare for severe weather ahead of Minnesota Severe Weather Awareness Week, set for April 17-21.

As the area transitions from winter hazards to summer hazards, Beltrami County Emergency Management joined other state, local and tribal agencies in promoting weather preparedness for the upcoming summer months.

According to a release, each day of Minnesota Severe Weather Awareness Week has a specific hazard topic to familiarize people so they can be prepared when severe weather threatens.

Monday’s topic is alerts and warnings. The National Weather Service issues several different alerts and warnings during the summer months.

Watches may be issued when conditions are favorable for the development of severe weather or tornadoes. Warnings are issued when they are occurring, are likely to occur, or are imminent. There are a number of mobile apps available on smart devices that can alert residents, along with traditional commercial broadcast outlets or NOAA Weather Radios.


Tuesday’s topic is severe weather, lightning and hail. Summer storms can produce destructive winds, large hail and torrential rain. Straight-line wind storms can be as destructive as some tornadoes with winds in excess of 120 miles per hour.

Hail causes an average of $1 billion in damage annually and has been recorded as large as baseball to softball-size in Beltrami County in recent years. Those who are outside during a lightning storm should find shelter indoors as lightning can strike several miles from a thunderstorm, the release said.

Wednesday’s topic is flooding. Thunderstorms can result in numerous inches of rainfall in a short period of time. Flash flooding is one of the more dangerous summer weather elements and kills nearly 200 people each year.

Those who encounter a flooded roadway should turn around instead of attempting to drive through it. As little as six inches of flowing water can knock over a walking adult while a foot of water can float vehicles, the release said.

Thursday is tornado drill day. Two tornado drills will be conducted on Thursday. The first will be at 1:45 p.m. and is an opportunity for businesses, schools and other institutions to practice their severe weather response plan.

The second drill will be at 6:45 p.m. and is intended for second-shift workers and families at home to participate in. Outdoor warning sirens in Beltrami County will be activated for the drill.

If severe weather is possible on Thursday, the activation of sirens will be canceled to avoid confusion with any possible real emergencies, the release said.

“While we have been very fortunate to not have experienced a violent tornado in recent years, Beltrami County is no stranger to severe weather and tornadoes," Christopher Muller, Beltrami County Emergency Management Director, said in the release. "From 1950-2022, Beltrami County has recorded over 40 tornadoes, putting us in the top 15 counties for confirmed tornadoes in Minnesota."


Friday’s topic is excessive heat. Heat advisories and warnings should be taken seriously as heat-related ailments can be deadly. During times of excessive heat avoid rigorous activity or delay until the cooler parts of the day.

Drink plenty of hydrating fluids and avoid alcohol consumption. Heat stroke can be identified through confusion, dizziness or becoming unconscious. It occurs when the body loses the ability to cool itself.

Never leave children or pets in vehicles on warm days, the release said. Cars can act like a greenhouse resulting in lethal temperatures in a short period of time.

This doesn’t include the many destructive straight-line wind events we have experienced.”

Additional information will be posted on the Beltrami County Emergency Management Facebook page next week.

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