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Severe Weather Awareness

Pictures of Severe Weather

Severe Weather Awareness Week | April 9-13
The most important events during the week are the two annual stateside tornado drills.
Tornado drills are scheduled for:

Thursday, April 12 at 1:45 p.m. and 6:45 p.m.

During this week, individuals, families, businesses and schools are encouraged to prepare for the risks of severe weather. Each day of the week focuses on a different weather safety topic.

 Monday, April 9 Alerts and Warnings
 Tuesday, April 10 Severe Weather, Lightning and Hail
 Wednesday, April 11 Floods
 Thursday, April 12 Tornadoes (with statewide tornado drills)
 Friday, April 13 Extreme Heat

Outdoor Warning Sirens
In 2015, Dakota County updated its outdoor warning siren policy. In the past, outdoor warning sirens were activated during tornado warnings and any severe thunderstorm warnings. 

Based on recommendations from the National Weather Service, The new policy will continue to activate sirens during tornado warnings, but will only sound sirens during thunderstorm warnings when wind speed is expected to meet or exceed 70 miles per hour.

Please see the following FAQs to understand when and how warning sirens are sounded.

What triggers siren activation?

  • Tornado warnings issued by the National Weather Service
  • Tornado or funnel cloud reported by local authorities
  • Severe thunderstorm warnings issued by the National Weather Service when wind speed is expected to meet or exceed 70 mph
  • A request from the local agency to sound the sirens.
  • Hazardous materials or other dangerous incidents.

Who actually activates the sirens?
Sirens are activated by supervisors at the Dakota Communications Center (DCC) based on the above criteria.  

Does the DCC always set off the sirens for the entire county when only a portion
of the county is in the storm’s path?

If the weather warning includes all of Dakota County, the sirens will sound countywide. Sirens can also be activated by zones or by individual cities within Dakota County as determined by information the DCC receives from the National Weather Service or local officials.

How long do the sirens run during a warning activation?
The sirens automatically shut off after three minutes.

Dakota County Emergency Notifications
Sign up for text, email and other alerts about emergencies and important community news through the Dakota Communications Center's Emergency Alert Program.
Dakota Communications Center Emergency Alerts

Weather Radio and Weather Alerts
Residents are encouraged to purchase a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather radio and sign up for weather alerts. The National Weather Service (NWS) and many local media outlets offer electronic alerting services that provide email, RSS feed or text messages to cell phones, computers or other devices, either directly or via services such as Facebook, Twitter or others. These messages are available by voluntary subscription and can provide local information on weather, including watches and warnings. The list below includes a sampling of various electronic alerting services in Minnesota:    

Severe Weather Impacts
Each year, thunderstorms, hail and straight-line winds cause extensive damage throughout Minnesota. Burnsville is among those cities that have seen a share of severe weather events. There have been 110 recorded tornados that have found their way through Burnsville. There were a variety of strengths. forces, injuries, distance traveled and months in which they occurred spanned March through November. Below is a list of the most devastating tornadoes and their impact on the community.






 June 19, 1951





 July 20, 1951





 June 23-24, 1952





May 6, 1965





May 9, 1973





 June 14, 1981





 Information gathered from www.homefacts.com

How do I prepare for severe weather?

Make a kit.
You may need to survive on your own after an emergency. This means having your own food, water, and other supplies in sufficient quantity to last for at least three days.

Make a plan.
Sit down as a family and decide where you will go and how you will communicate. There will be different responses to different weather events, so prepare for them all.

Be informed.

Answer the question, "What types of emergencies can happen in your community?" and use that to prepare.

Get involved.
Learn about your community's emergency plans and how you can help in the event of a disaster. Burnsville residents have the opportunity to become involved in city programs, such as the Mobile Volunteer Network (MVN) and the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT).

Click here for more information on how to prepare to severe weather and emergency situations.

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