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County Connections: Severe Weather Awareness Week

Apr 10, 2020 09:59AM ● By Editor
By Cook County Emergency Management Director Mike Keyport - From Cook County MN - April 10, 2020


It’s spring in Cook County: the snow is melting; the rivers are beginning to flow; and there are signs of pussy willows, flowers and trees blossoming. And, of course, our much-anticipated warmer weather is coming.

Warmer weather brings the potential for severe weather, and we in Cook County need to be prepared. To that end, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, in conjunction with the National Weather Service, is promoting Severe Weather Awareness Week during the week of April 13 through 17.

April is a great time to begin preparing for severe weather, not only for local residents, but also for our businesses, schools and the community as a whole. By taking these steps now, we will be prepared and can take appropriate action when necessary. Each day of Severe Weather Awareness Week highlights an important weather safety topic.

Monday: Alerts and Warnings
Following is a brief summary of the types of alerts we encounter:

Weather Warning: Dangerous weather or event is occurring or imminent and likely to have
significant threat to life or property. Take protective action immediately.

Weather Watch: Weather conditions are favorable for hazardous weather. Stay alert, make
alternate plans, and be aware of shelter or evacuation routes.

Weather Advisory: A less hazardous weather condition is possible but not yet happening. Weather may still pose significant safety risk or travel problems. Stay alert. Cook County utilizes the Code Red alerting system; if you are not signed up, please visit www.co.cook.mn.us to do so.

Tuesday: Severe Thunderstorms, Lightning and Hail
A typical thunderstorm is 15 miles in diameter, lasts for 30 minutes, can produce large hail and has winds of at least 58 mph. During such an event, a bolt of lightning can be over five miles in length and can strike up to 15 miles away from the center of the storm. No place outside is safe when thunderstorms are present: according to the National Weather Service, your chances of being struck by lightning are 1 in 12,000.

Wednesday: Floods and Flash Floods
Floods are one the most common natural hazards in Minnesota. Flash floods develop quickly, leaving little time for preparation. Please do not ever walk or drive through moving water: six inches of moving water can carry away an adult, and12 inches of moving water can carry away a car. State and federal authorities recommend having an evacuation plan and a “go kit” for such emergencies. You can check out FEMA Ready.gov for more information.

Thursday: Tornado Drill Day
Minnesota averages 40 tornados per year but, in 2010, the state had the most tornados of any state in the U.S. with 113. Tornados can strike any time of the day but often occur in the late afternoon or evening. The National Weather Service will conduct a simulated tornado warning at 1:45 p.m. Thursday to allow schools, businesses and organizations to practice their tornado plans. A second simulated warning will occur at 6:45 p.m. This allows second shift workers and families at home to practice their sheltering plans. Remember: severe weather and tornados occur most often between 3 and 8 p.m.

Friday: Extreme Heat
Heat-related fatalities happen every year throughout the U.S., and Minnesota is no exception. Heat cramps are muscular pains and spasms that are caused by exposure to high heat combined with loss of fluids. The cramps usually occur in the legs or abdomen. Heat exhaustion typically involves the loss of body fluids through heavy sweating during strenuous exercise or physical labor. Signs of heat exhaustion include cool moist, pale or flushed skin; heavy sweating; headache; nausea; dizziness; and exhaustion. Heat stroke (also known as sunstroke) is a life-threatening condition in which a person’s temperature control system stops working and the body is unable to cool itself. Signs of heat stroke include hot, red skin which may be dry or moist; changes in consciousness; vomiting; and high body temperature. If this occurs, you need to call 911 immediately.

Additional information on Severe Weather Awareness Week is available under Weather Safety on the Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s Homeland Security and Management web page. Planning is key tobeing prepared for any severe weather event, so please take time to plan emergency responses with your family. If we do that, watch the sky and listen to advanced warnings, we can each do our part in keeping Cook County safe.

County Connections is a column on timely topics and service information from your Cook Countygovernment. Cook County – Supporting Community Through Quality Public Service
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