Thunderstorms are severe storms that can produce hail, heavy rain, frequent lightning, wind speeds greater than 57 miles per hour, or straight-line winds that can exceed 100 miles per hour. Some thunderstorms also produce tornadoes. Thunderstorms typically occur in spring, summer and fall and last an average of 30 minutes.
Steps you can take
1. Make a Family Emergency Plan
Know where you can find shelter. If you are indoors, go to a room with no windows on the lowest floor (i.e., storm cellar, basement, interior room or hallway) and get under a sturdy table or stairwell and protect your head and neck.
If you are outdoors or in a car, go inside a building, if possible. If building shelter is not available, lie flat in a ditch or low-lying area. Do not go under an overpass or bridge.
Establish a meeting place for your family if you are not able to go home. Identify an emergency contact that lives out of town. Know their phone number.
2. Assemble an Emergency Supply Kit
Include items like non-perishable food, water, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, first aid supplies, extra flashlights and batteries. Store it in your shelter location.
3. Find out about emergency plans at your family’s work, daycare and school
Find out what room they will be taken to if a thunderstorm is imminent and where they will be taken if there are injuries once the thunderstorm is over.
4. Learn basic first aid and CPR
Watches and warnings
A severe thunderstorm watch means the current weather conditions can cause a thunderstorm to develop in your area. A severe thunderstorm warning means a thunderstorm has been indicated on radar in your area. A three-minute steady siren will be sounded. When you hear the siren, take shelter immediately and listen for emergency information on your radio or television. Find out more about warning sirens.
Sirens are tested the first Wednesday of each month at 1 p.m.
Dakota County’s role in thunderstorm preparedness
The Dakota Communications Center activates outdoor warning sirens when a thunderstorm warning or severe thunderstorm warning with winds in excess of 70 mph has been issued in your area. The Dakota Communications Center also tests the sirens each month.
Dakota County partners with local communities to provide the Dakota Communications Center which distributes information through the Emergency Alert Program notification system and provides 911 assistance.