Tornado drill today; Sirens 1:45 & 6:55pm; Rain today, 80 next week?

Statewide tornado drill today

1:45pm & 6:55pm sirens will sound in most counties

Rain today (but not severe) in southern Minnesota

Wet snowflakes possible tonight as system winds down

2nd rain shot Saturday – wet snow in Duluth?

Sunday – sunnier & nicer day this weekend

80 by Wednesday? Warming trend next week

Severe? – models hint at possible severe in Minnesota by Thursday & Friday next week

19 sirens.jpg

Source: NOAA

Statewide tornado drill today:

Yes those are sirens you’ll hear today!

The NWS is conducting the annual statewide tornado drill today in Minnesota and western Wisconsin. In most counties, the sirens will blow at 1:45pm & 6:55pm.

Here are the details from the Twin Cities NWS:

Tornado Watch/Warning Drills

The National Weather Service, Wisconsin Emergency Management, the Minnesota Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, and other state, county and local agencies have come together to host Severe Weather Awareness Week activities. On Thursday, April 19th, simulated tornado watches and warnings will be issued to test the statewide warning and communications systems. The schedule for April 19th is as follows:

(all times CDT)

1:00 PM: The National Weather Service will issue a simulated tornado watch for Minnesota and Wisconsin.

1:45 PM: The National Weather Service will issue a simulated tornado warning for 9 counties of western Wisconsin (Barron, Chippewa, Dunn, Eau Claire, Pepin, Pierce, Polk, Rusk and St Croix). Note that most cities and counties will activate outdoor warning siren systems.

1:45 PM: The National Weather Service will issue a simulated tornado warning for Minnesota counties. Note that most cities and counties will activate outdoor warning siren systems.

2:00 PM: The National Weather Service will issue an “End of Test” message using the Severe Weather Statement product. It should be stated that outdoor warning sirens will not be sounded again for this all clear, nor will there be any warning tone on NOAA Weather Radio.

6:55 PM: Another simulated tornado warning will be issued for 81 participating counties in Minnesota. Those counties not participating are: Aitkin, Becker, Houston, Kittson, Norman, and Wilkin.

All about sirens:

Sirens can be some of the most effective, and most misunderstood warning tools in severe weather. Here are some facts, and some of my random thoughts about sirens.

NWS siren facts below:

Siren Activation Information

Counties and cities own the sirens, and therefore decide how and when to activate them. The National Weather Service does not sound them.

There are many different policies regarding siren activation that are used by the various cities and counties. Some will activate sirens across the entire county for tornado warnings only. Others will activate sirens countywide for tornado warnings and all severe thunderstorm warnings. Some will activate sirens across the entire county for tornado warnings and severe thunderstorms that have winds of at least 70 or 75 mph. Others will activate sirens only for portions of counties. Local officials may also sound the sirens anytime they believe severe weather is a threat, even if there is no warning from the National Weather Service.

Sirens normall sound for about three minutes, and then go silent. It is very rare to keep the sirens sounding for the entire warning, since that would cause the backup battery to run out, which would be critical in the event that power goes out. Furthermore, the siren motor will fail much more quickly if the siren sounds continuously. Some jurisdictions may repeat siren activation every few minutes.

There is no such thing as an “all-clear” for storms.

Please check with your local public safety officials for details on when warning sirens are sounded in your community.

My (Huttner Weather Lab) comments on sirens:

-Sirens have the advantage that everybody within earshot gets warned at once. Other warning modes depend on individual’s “warning communication readiness.”

-Sirens were designed and installed for “air raids” back in the Cold War days.

-The first use of sirens for tornado warnings in Minnesota is believed to be on the 1965 Twin Cities tornado outbreak.

-Sirens are designed as an “outdoor warning system.”

-When you hear sirens take cover first, and seek additional information after that.

-Tornadoes can strike without a siren “warning.” In Woodward, OK tornado last weekend, a lighting strike cut power to the towns 20 sirens. The tornado struck without a “siren” warning. You should have other, primary sources for warnings like NOAA Weather Radio.

So what should I do?

The bottom line is, it’s up to you to decide how you will get severe weather warnings.

-Start with the “Watch!”

When a severe weather watch is issued, that’s the time to ramp up your “situational awareness” of the severe weather threat that day. Make sure all of your weather sources are up and running, and check in frequently to see how severe weather is developing and moving with respect to your location. Keep the kids (and pets) at close range.

Here are several ways to make sure you get the warning.

1) NOAA Weather Radio – programmable for your location. Tone alert will wake you at night1

2) TV & Radio: Still a great way to get breaking weather news and warnings.

3) Weather Apps: Here are some free weather apps for your smartphone. Here are some more (some have a fee)

4) In your car? Know your county! When you hear a warning, take a moment to think of the best, nearest safe shelter. Get there and go inside.

5) Use common sense. Does the sky look black? Green? Hail nearby? Don’t wait for a warning. Trust your senses and get to safe shelter.

Rain moves in:

Radars are lighting up today with ran in southern Minnesota. A cool soaking rain is just what we need to help ease ongoing drought.

Models crank out around .50″+ south of the metro with this system. The Twin Cities will lie on the northern edge, and I thnk about .20″ is closer to reality…with the north metro tallying even less rain and little or no rain north of the metro.

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Source: ISU

After a cool sunny Friday, the next shot of rain rolls in Saturday. Sunday looks like the sunnier, nicer day this weekend with highs climbing back to the 60s.

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Source: NWS

Warmer next week!

A slow steady warming trend kicks in Monday & Tuesday. By Wednesday, a warm front could allow temps to soar toward the 80 degree mark in southern MN.

19 trend.PNG

Source: ISU

The GFS is hinting now (for severeal runs) that waves of low pressure may move in Thursday & Friday. With heat and humidity around, it appears that there is a chance for some severe weather late next week.