Severe Weather Awareness Week
Severe Weather Awareness Week is April 17-21 in Minnesota
Statewide tornado drills are scheduled for Thursday, April 20. The first-time outdoor warning sirens sound simulating a drill at 1:45 p.m. is intended for businesses and institutions. The second time they sound at 6:45 p.m. is geared toward families and second-shift workers.
Below are some tips from the City of Ramsey Emergency Management:
- Monday - Alerts & Warnings
- Tuesday - Severe Weather
- Wednesday - Floods
- Thursday - Tornadoes
- Friday - Extreme Heat
Alerts & Warnings
We are fortunate to live in an age and country where our technology can now communicate with us almost anywhere and give us advanced warnings of impending hazards or other important information.
Knowing where and how to receive the warnings and what to do when you get them can mean the difference between life and death.
Wireless Emergency Alerts
In weather emergencies, warnings can save lives. But traditional warning methods such as television, radio and outdoor sirens don’t always reach everyone.
Emergency officials now have a new way to send warnings directly to cell phones in affected areas — Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs).
These short messages may look like text messages, but unlike texts sent directly to your phone number, these warnings will be broadcast to all phones within the range of designated cell towers.
The alerts will tell you the type of warning, the affected area, and the duration. You’ll need to turn to other sources, such as television or your NOAA All-Hazards radio, to get more detailed information about what is happening and what actions you should take.
Key things to know
- WEA messages may look like a text or appear on your home screen.
- The alert message will include a unique ringtone and vibration.
- You will never be charged for WEA messages.
- Emergency alerts will not interrupt any calls or downloads in progress. If you’re on the phone when the alert goes out, you’ll get the message when you end your call.
- You need not have GPS or other special features turned on to receive the alerts.
- The system does not identify your location or phone number – it simply sends the message to all devices in a given area.
- If you’re on the road and enter an area with an active warning, you’ll receive a WEA message when you come within range of one of the affected cell towers.
Three types of emergency alerts
- PRESIDENTIAL ALERTS: Issued by the U.S. President in the event of a nationwide emergency. No president has ever yet had to issue a presidential alert, but should one become necessary, cell phone providers are required to broadcast it to all WEA-capable phones.
- IMMINENT THREAT ALERTS: Typically issued by the National Weather Service, tornado, flash flood and blizzard warnings are some of the warnings the NWS will initially send.
- AMBER ALERTS: Issued by the BCA; they will share information about child abduction.
Siren activation information
Warning sirens are the most effective method of warning the population at large about dangerous conditions. However, one common misconception about warning sirens is that they will alert the public to hazardous conditions while they are indoors. While some people may live close enough to hear the sirens indoors, this is not the intended purpose. The sirens are designed to advise people who are outside that a hazardous condition exists or is approaching. When the sirens are heard, go inside and tune in to local media to get more information.
Our warning sirens are connected to the Metro Warning System, which allows the sirens to be set off by either the State of Minnesota warning point or the Anoka County warning point in Anoka. The sirens are operated by a radio tone device that allows flexibility in setting them off for specific regions or municipalities within the county or even a particular siren. For severe weather warnings, outdoor warning siren activation in Ramsey is based on the following criteria:
- When a Tornado Warning has been issued for the City of Ramsey
- When a public safety officer (police, fire or EMS) reports sighting a funnel cloud or tornado
- Sustained straight-line winds over 75 mph or potential for the same
NOTE: There is no such thing as an "all-clear" siren.
Types of warnings
The National Weather Service uses the words "advisory,” "watch" and "warning" to alert you to potentially dangerous weather. Understanding these terms and knowing how to react can be a lifesaver.
An advisory is issued when a hazardous weather event is imminent or likely. Advisories are for less severe conditions than warnings that cause significant inconvenience and could lead to situations that may threaten life or property if caution is not exercised.
A watch means weather conditions are favorable for dangerous weather to occur. In other words, a "watch" means watching for what the weather could do and being ready to act accordingly. For events that come and go quickly, such as severe thunderstorms, tornadoes or flash floods, a watch means that the odds are suitable for the dangerous weather, but it's not yet happening.
When a severe thunderstorm, tornado or flash flood watch is in effect, you should look for signs of dangerous weather and maintain access to the latest information. Sometimes a severe thunderstorm, tornado or flash flood can happen so quickly that warnings can't be issued in time.
A winter storm watch means preparing by stocking up on emergency supplies and ensuring you know what to do if a warning is issued.
For severe thunderstorms, tornadoes and flash floods, a warning means the weather event is imminent or occurring somewhere in the defined warning area and that people need to take shelter as soon as possible.
Sirens typically give outdoor tornado warnings. People indoors should listen to radios, TV or Weather Radio warnings to learn the latest information. A winter storm warning means it's unsafe to travel or venture outside. If traveling, head for the nearest shelter.
Storms, Lightning & Hail
Thunderstorms affect relatively small areas compared with most other storms. The typical thunderstorm is 15 miles in diameter and lasts 30 minutes, but whatever its size, all thunderstorms are dangerous.
Severe thunderstorms produce large hail or winds of at least 58 mph. Some wind gusts can exceed 100 mph and produce tornado-like damage. That’s why many communities will sound their outdoor sirens for damaging straight-line winds.
When a severe thunderstorm threatens, stay inside a strong structure. Mobile home occupants should go to a more permanent structure.
Thunderstorms can produce straight-line winds that exceed 100 miles per hour. For this reason, you should treat severe thunderstorms just as you would tornadoes. Move to an appropriate shelter if you are in the storm’s path.
The strong rush of wind from a thunderstorm is called a downburst. The primary cause is rain-cooled air that accelerates downward, producing potentially damaging wind gusts.
Strong downbursts can be mistaken for tornadoes, often accompanied by a roaring sound similar to a tornado. Downbursts can easily overturn mobile homes, tear roofs off houses and topple trees. Campers are especially vulnerable because trees can fall into campsites and onto tents.
Hail is a product of thunderstorms that causes nearly $1 billion in damage yearly. Most hail is about pea-sized but can reach grapefruit-size. Large hail stones fall faster than 100 mph and have been known to kill people.
- All thunderstorms produce lightning
- A bolt of lightning can be over five miles in length
- Lightning can strike up to 15 miles away from the center of a storm
- Your chance of being struck by lightning once in your lifetime: 1 in 12,000 (NWS Data)
- “Heat” lightning doesn’t exist -it flashes from a far-away storm that can’t be heard
Lightning Safety Tips
- NO PLACE outside is safe when thunderstorms are in the area!
- If you hear thunder, lightning is close enough to strike you.
- When you hear thunder, immediately move to a safe shelter: a substantial building with electricity or plumbing or an enclosed, metal-topped vehicle with windows up.
- Stay in a safe shelter for at least 30 minutes after you hear the last sound of thunder.
Indoor Lightning Safety
- Stay off corded phones, computers and other electrical equipment that put you in direct contact with electricity.
- Avoid plumbing, including sinks, baths and faucets.
- Stay away from windows and doors, and stay off porches.
If you are caught outside with no safe shelter anywhere nearby, the following actions may reduce your risk:
- Immediately get off elevated areas such as hills, mountain ridges or peaks
- Never lie flat on the ground
- Never shelter under an isolated tree
- Never use a cliff or rocky overhang for shelter
- Immediately get out and away from ponds, lakes and other bodies of water
- Stay away from objects that conduct electricity (barbed wire fences, power lines, windmills, etc.)
Myth: If it is not raining, lightning is not dangerous.
Fact: Lightning often strikes away from rainfall and may occur as far as ten miles away from any rainfall.
Myth: Rubber soles on shoes or rubber tires on a car will protect you from lightning injury.
Fact: Rubber does not protect from lightning. However, the steel frame of a hard-topped vehicle provides some protection if you are not touching metal.
Myth: People struck by lightning carry an electrical charge and should not be touched.
Fact: Lightning victims carry no electrical charge and should be attended to immediately.
Myth: Heat lightning occurs on very hot summer days and poses no threat.
Fact: What is referred to as heat lightning is actually lightning from a thunderstorm too far away for thunder to be heard. However, the storm may be moving in your direction.
Flooding and Flash Floods
Nationally, floods claim nearly 200 lives annually, forcing 300,000 persons from their homes and resulting in property damage of over $2 billion. In 2019, six out of Minnesota's nine state and federally-declared disasters involved some sort of flooding.
About 75 percent of flash-flood deaths occur at night, and half of the victims die in automobiles or other vehicles. Many deaths occur when people drive around road barricades that clearly indicate that the road is washed out ahead.
General Flood Preparedness: Before a Flood
Spring and summer rainfalls can be heavy and can produce flash floods in a matter of hours. However, there are a few commonsense preparations everyone can take to reduce their risks of harm and property destruction. The following lists a few steps everyone can take to prepare for any flood emergency:
- Assemble an emergency supply kit that includes enough provisions for you and your family to live on for a minimum of three days.
- Make an emergency plan for you and your family and share it with them. Learn about the emergency plans established in your area by your state and local government.
- Get a NOAA Weather Radio. Listen for information and warnings.
- Elevate appliances such as the furnace, water heater and electric panel in your home if you live in an area with high flood risk.
- Consider installing "check valves" to prevent flood water from backing up into the drains of your home. Use large corks or stoppers to plug showers, tubs, or basins as a last resort.
- If feasible, construct barriers to prevent floodwater from entering the building and seal the walls in basements with waterproofing compounds.
- Get Flood Insurance. Property insurance does not typically cover flood damage. Talk to your insurance provider about your policy and consider if you need additional coverage.
- Six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars, causing loss of control and possible stalling.
- A foot of water will float many vehicles.
- Two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles, including sport utility vehicles (SUVs) and pick-ups.
What to do in a Flash Flood
Flash floods occur within six hours of the beginning of heavy rainfall. Below are some guidelines for keeping safe during a flash flood:
- Be prepared to evacuate and go to high ground immediately.
- Get out of areas subject to flooding.
- Do not attempt to cross a flowing stream on foot. Even water only six inches deep, when moving at a high rate of speed, can knock you off your feet.
- Never drive through flooded areas or standing water. Shallow, swiftly flowing water can wash a car from a roadway. Also, the roadbed may not be intact under the water.
- If the vehicle stalls, abandon it immediately and seek higher ground. Rapidly rising water may engulf the vehicle and its occupants.
- Be especially cautious at night when it’s harder to recognize flood dangers.
- Understand the difference between a Flash Flood Watch and a Flash Flood Warning
Know the Terms
- Flood or flash flood watch—conditions exist for possible flooding
- Flood warning—flooding is occurring or will occur soon
- Flash flood warning —a flash flood occurs or will occur soon. Seek safety or higher ground immediately and avoid flooded roadways
After a Flood
- Return home only when authorities indicate it is safe
- Use caution when entering buildings
- Service damaged septic tanks, cesspools, pits, and leaching systems
- Clean and disinfect the damaged property
- Have alternate sewage/toilet capacity
Thursday- Tornado Safety Information
- Nature’s most intensely violent storm
- In 2021, Minnesota recorded 64 tornadoes, including 22 on December 15 alone, the latest reported tornadoes on record.
- Tornadoes may strike quickly with little warning
- Tornadoes can occur any time of day or night but often occur in the late afternoon or evening
What To Do During a Tornado Event: In a House with a Basement
Avoid windows. Get in the basement under some sturdy protection (heavy table or work bench), or cover yourself with a mattress or sleeping bag. Know where very heavy objects rest on the floor above (pianos, refrigerators, waterbeds, etc.) and do not go under them. They may fall through a weakened floor and crush you.
In a House with No Basement
Avoid windows. Go to the lowest floor, a small center room (like a bathroom or closet), under a stairwell, or in an interior hallway with no windows. Crouch as low as possible to the floor, facing down, and cover your head with your hands. A bathtub may offer a shell of partial protection. Even in an interior room, you should surround yourself with thick padding (mattress, blankets, etc.) to protect against falling debris in case the roof and ceiling fail.
In an Apartment
If you live in an apartment on an upper floor, get to the lowest level of the building that you can immediately. This could be an underground parking garage or a neighbor’s first-floor apartment. Then move to the most interior area possible, away from windows.
If you live in a high-rise apartment building, you may not have enough time to get to a lower level, so picking a place in the hallway in the center of your building is the best idea, such as a stairwell. If that is unavailable, a closet, bathroom or interior hall without windows is the safest spot in your apartment during a tornado. Power loss during a tornado storm is common, so avoid elevators and keep a flashlight handy.
In an Office Building, Clinic or Store
Follow instructions from facility managers. Go directly to an enclosed, windowless area in the center of the building ─ away from glass and on the lowest floor possible. Then, crouch down and cover your head. Interior stairwells are usually good places to take shelter; if it’s not crowded, they allow you to get to a lower level quickly. Stay off the elevators; you could be trapped in them if the power is lost.
In a Mobile Home
Get out! Even if your home is tied down, you are probably safer outside, even if the only alternative is to seek shelter out in the open. Most tornadoes can destroy even tied-down mobile homes, and it is best not to play the low odds that yours will make it. If your community has a tornado shelter, go there fast. If a sturdy, permanent building is within easy running distance, seek shelter there. Otherwise, lie flat on low ground away from your home, protecting your head. Use open ground away from trees and cars, which can be blown onto you if possible.
At a School
Follow the drill! Go to the interior hall or room in an orderly way as you are told. Crouch low, head down, and protect the back of your head with your arms. Stay away from windows and large open rooms like gyms and auditoriums.
In a Car or Truck
Vehicles are extremely dangerous in a tornado. If the tornado is visible, far away, and the traffic is light, you may be able to drive away from its path by moving at right angles to the tornado. Otherwise, park the car out of the traffic lanes as quickly and safely as possible. Get out and seek shelter in a sturdy building. If in the open country, run to low ground away from any cars (which may roll over on you). Lie flat and face-down, protecting the back of your head with your arms. Avoid seeking shelter under bridges, which can accelerate the wind while offering little protection against flying debris.
In the Open Outdoors
If possible, seek shelter in a sturdy building. If not, lie flat and face-down on low ground, protecting the back of your head with your arms. Get as far away from trees and cars as possible; they may be blown onto you in a tornado.
In a Shopping Mall, Large Store or Stadium
Listen for instructions from building security. Watch for others. Move away from windows as quickly as possible to an interior bathroom, storage room or other small enclosed area. Move away from any glass.
In a Church or Theater
Move quickly but orderly to an interior bathroom or hallway, away from windows if possible. Crouch face-down and protect your head with your arms. If there is no time to do that, get under the seats or pews, protecting your head with your arms or hands.
Friday- Extreme Heat
According to the Department of Health (MDH), between 2000 to 2016, 54 deaths were directly attributable to extreme heat in Minnesota. On July 19, 2011, an all-time heat index record was set in Minnesota. The air temperature was 93 degrees Fahrenheit and the heat index reached 130 degrees Fahrenheit in Moorhead.
Based on a national average from 1992-2001, excessive heat claimed 219 lives yearly. By contrast, floods killed 88, tornadoes 57, lightning 52 and hurricanes 15.
Heat Problems Heat Cramps-
Muscular pains and spasms usually occur in the legs or abdomen caused by exposure to high heat, humidity and loss of fluids and electrolytes.
- Find a cool location to rest and take fluids (water or sports drinks)
typically involves the loss of body fluids through heavy sweating during strenuous exercise or physical labor in high heat and humidity.
- Signs of heat exhaustion include cool, moist, pale or flushed skin; heavy sweating; headache; nausea; dizziness; weakness; 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.
- Heat stroke is life-threatening. Call 9-1-1 immediately
During a Heat Wave
- Drink more fluids –avoid alcohol and high-sugared drinks
- Stay in an air-conditioned place during the hottest parts of the day.
- If air conditioning is not available, be in a location with adequate shade, air flow and ventilation
- Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing
- The Heat Index is a measure of how hot it feels when relative humidity is added to the air temperature
- Heat Index values are based on shady conditions; exposure to full sunshine can increase values by up to 15 degrees
Never Leave Children, Disabled Adults or Pets in Parked Vehicles!
Each year, dozens of children and untold numbers of pets left in parked vehicles die from hyperthermia. Hyperthermia is an acute condition when the body absorbs more heat than it can handle. Hyperthermia can occur even on a mild day. Studies have shown that the temperature inside a parked vehicle can rapidly rise to a dangerous level for children, pets and even adults. Leaving the windows slightly open does not significantly decrease the heating rate. The effects can be more severe on children because their bodies warm faster than adults.
Tips for Preventing Heat-Related Illness
- Drink more fluids (nonalcoholic), regardless of your activity level. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. Warning: If your doctor generally limits the amount of fluid you drink or has you on water pills, ask how much you should drink while the weather is hot.
- Don’t drink liquids that contain alcohol or large amounts of sugar–these cause you to lose more body fluid. Also, avoid very cold drinks because they can cause stomach cramps.
- Stay indoors and, if possible, stay in an air-conditioned place. If your home does not have air conditioning, go to the shopping mall or public library–even a few hours spent in air conditioning can help your body stay cooler when you go back into the heat.
- Electric fans may provide comfort, but fans will not prevent heat-related illness when the temperature is in the high 90s. Taking a cool shower or bath, or moving to an air-conditioned place is a much better way to cool off.
- Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
- NEVER leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle.
- Although anyone can suffer from heat-related illness, some people are at greater risk than others. Check regularly on:
- Infants and young children
- People aged 65 or older
- People who have a mental illness
- Those who are physically ill, especially with heart disease or high blood pressure
- Visit at-risk adults at least twice daily and watch them for signs of heat exhaustion or stroke. Infants and young children, of course, need much more frequent attention.
- If you must be out in the heat:
- Limit your outdoor activity to morning and evening hours
- Cut down on exercise. If you must exercise, drink two-to-four glasses of cool, nonalcoholic fluids each hour. A sports beverage can replace the salt and minerals you lose in sweat. Warning: If you are on a low-salt diet, talk with your doctor before drinking a sports beverage.
- Try to rest often in shady areas
- Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat (also keeps you cooler) and sunglasses and by putting on sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher (the most effective products say “broad spectrum” or “UVA/UVB protection” on their labels).
More information is also available at