Rochester, MN (KROC-AM News) - Minnesotans are being encouraged to participate in the annual statewide tornado drills that will take place on Thursday as part of Severe Weather Awareness Week.

There will be two mock tornado warnings. The first will occur at 1:45 PM and is intended for schools, businesses, and other institutions to practice their response to an actual weather emergency. Outdoor warning sirens statewide will be activated and simulated tornado warnings will be broadcast by radio and TV stations through the Emergency Alert System. The mock warning will also be used by law enforcement agencies and other emergency responders to review their plans for responding to an actual tornado, severe thunderstorm, flash flooding, or other weather events.

The second simulated warning is scheduled at 6:45 PM and is meant for families as well as businesses that operate in the evening and nighttime hours. Olmsted County Sheriff Kevin Torgerson says it’s especially important for parents and children to discuss and practice their plans for finding safe shelter in the event of a real tornado or other potentially dangerous weather. He says that includes identifying the shelter and determining how long it would take to reach that location once a warning is issued.

Sheriff Torgerson appeared on the Rochester Today Show on KROC-AM Monday morning to discuss severe weather preparedness. The YouTube videos included in this post are excerpts of that show, during which he talked about today’s simulated warnings and the importance of being prepared to act when conditions are favorable for severe weather.