Tornado Drill Day - Thursday, April 20, 2017
For more than 20 years, the state of Minnesota has conducted a Severe Weather Awareness Week in partnership with the National Weather Service and local governments. A statewide tornado drill is part of that event.
Most local and statewide radio, TV and cable stations will be participating in the drill. Television viewers and radio station listeners and TV viewers should hear or see a simulated tornado warning message at 1:45 p.m. This tornado drill warning should last about one minute. When the test is completed, stations should return to normal programming.
In addition, alerts for both the simulated tornado watches and warnings will be issued over the NOAA Weather Radios in the area which will activate the radio alerts. The afternoon drill will also occur at the same time in Wisconsin and is expected to be broadcast on most radio and TV stations.
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 20, 2017 simulated tornado watches and warnings will be issued to test the statewide warning and communications systems. All counties in Minnesota normally participate in the first drill at 1:45 p.m. unless actual severe weather is expected. The schedule is as follows:
1:00 p.m. All six weather National Weather Service offices that serve Minnesota will issue a simulated tornado watch (TOA). NOAA Weather Radios will activate with the real TOA code.
1:45 p.m. The National Weather Service will issue a simulated tornado warning (TOR) for Minnesota counties. Note that most cities and counties will activate outdoor warning siren systems. NOAA Weather Radios will activate with the real TOR code.
2:00 p.m. The National Weather Service will issue an "End of Test" message using the Severe Weather Statement product. No alarm on weather radio.
6:45 p.m. The National Weather Service offices will issue another simulated tornado warning (TOR). NOAA Weather Radios will activate with the real TOR code.
7:00 p.m. The National Weather Service will issue an "End of Test" message using the Severe Weather Statement product. No alarm on weather radio.
Downloadable Tornado Drill Schedule
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 April 20, 2017 - 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 April 20, 2017- 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.
Postponement or Cancellation
If real severe weather is a significant threat on or before April 20, any of the six National Weather Service offices that serve Minnesota may postpone the simulated watch and warning for their area to Friday, April 21.
If the weather threat is continuing into Friday, then the drills may be cancelled. Any postponement or cancellation will be announced through the media.
Want to participate in the drill but don't know how? Check out our tornado drill day fact sheet for some ideas on how you or your organization can participate.