They’ll sound at 1:45 p.m. and again at 6:55 p.m. in Crookston

    April 21-25 is Severe Weather Awareness Week, and in Crookston on Thursday, April 24, tornado sirens will sound at two separate times to provide an opportunity for schools, businesses and families to practice their tornado safety drills.   

    The afternoon tornado drill will occur at 1:45 p.m. Thursday, 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.   

    The reason for the 6:55 p.m. drill that will follow Thursday evening 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 6:55 p.m. tornado drill also allows families to practice their sheltering plans.
Annual tradition   

    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.   

    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 in the state.   

    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.