Homeland Security and Emergency Management

A Division of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety

Tornado Drill Day

Tornado Drill Day - Thursday, April 15, 2021

For more than 20 years, the state of Minnesota has conducted  Severe Weather Awareness Week in partnership with the National Weather Service and local governments. A statewide tornado drill is part of that event.

A few things you should know:

  • The Minnesota Department of Public Safety division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DPS-HSEM) has encouraged counties to sound their outdoor warning sirens at 1:45 p.m. and 6:45 p.m. on Thursday, April 15 so Minnesotans can practice their tornado sheltering plans.​

  • Read our DPS blog​ for tips on how to shelter for a tornado in our social distancing world.

Siren Activation Information

Counties and cities own, operate and maintain all local sirens, and set their own policy on how and when to activate them. The National Weather Service does not operate 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 normal 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.

Note: There is no such thing as an all-clear siren.


Afternoon Tornado Drill - 1:45 p.m.

The drill traditionally occurs on Thursday afternoon at 1:45 p.m., when jurisdictions across Minnesota sound their outdoor warning sirens. Schools, businesses and other facilities are encouraged to conduct a tornado drill at this time to practice their tornado sheltering plans.

Evening Tornado Drill- 6:45 p.m.

The reason for a 6:45 p.m. drill is that severe weather including tornadoes occurs most often between 3 and 8 p.m. The statewide 1:45 p.m. drill gives institutions, first-shift and day workers a time to practice, but it does not allow second-shift workers the same opportunity. The 6:45 p.m. tornado drill also allows families to practice their sheltering plans.