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Preparing for severe weather

Hennepin County mesonet weather monitoring stationSevere weather season is almost here, which means it is time to refresh our severe weather safety knowledge.

Climate change is causing weather to become more extreme. As severe weather events grow more frequent and impactful, it’s important to prepare.

How climate change is contributing to severe weather

The Earth’s surface temperature is increasing due to multiple factors: greenhouse gases, agriculture, road construction, and deforestation are just a few.

These factors allow the Earth to absorb more radiant energy from the Sun, and in turn warm the troposphere, the layer of the atmosphere where we live.

We are seeing more and worse floods due to extreme weather and higher precipitation. For example, a flood that was so severe that it only happened once a century could happen every decade. A flood that happened every decade could happen every year.

We will also likely see more thunderstorms with damaging winds, large hail, and more intense rainfall. With climate change increasing our average temperature, it is likely we will experience more frequent, severe, and long-lasting extreme heat events.

Actions you can take to prepare

This information comes from Hennepin County Emergency Management, National Weather Service, Minnesota Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

Watch for weather alerts and warnings

When storms strike after dark, how will you get the warning? Local tv, weather apps, websites, radio, weather radio
  • Severe weather watch – issued when severe weather is expected in a few hours
  • Severe weather warning – severe weather is happening and you need to act now

It is crucial to have multiple ways to receive alerts, so you can act quickly. Although you may hear outdoor warning sirens while out for a walk on a summer day, how will you know about severe weather warnings inside your home in the middle of the night? A NOAA Weather Radio or cell phone app that is turned up loud could save your life.

Avoid outdoors during severe weather, lightning, and hail

Every thunderstorm shares one common hazard: lightning. Lightning kills an average of 43 people each year with hundreds more severely injured. Make sure, when thunder roars, go indoors, or see a flash, dash inside!

Be prepared for flash floods

Emergency crew working on a road that is floodedFlash flooding can happen suddenly, so it’s important to be prepared. Be prepared to evacuate and go to high ground. If you see a road flooded, turn around, don’t drown. If you cannot see the pavement under the water, you don’t know if it is still there. Water levels and speed can change quickly, so you are safest by staying indoors or find higher ground if shelter is not available.

Know when to seek shelter from tornadoes

Although tornadoes are better forecasted and warnings provide longer lead times to seek shelter, it is important to know where those shelters are no matter where you are. Make sure you and your loved ones know where to seek shelter while at home, work, or at school.

Outdoor warning siren safety tips

  • Obey the sirens. Sirens mean people should seek shelter and tune to local weather information on radio, television, or a NOAA weather radio. Unless it’s a first Wednesday-of-the-month drill, the warning is real.
  • Be weather aware. Know the weather forecast when you start the day.

Stay cool during extreme heat

Construction worker working in the heat, carrying a beam with the sun blazing behind themThe spring, summer, and fall are beautiful times of the year, but can also bring warm temperatures.

Make sure to use your air conditioning during hot weather or find a cooling option near you. For cooling options, visit

A few other ways to prevent heat illnesses is to slow down, dress for summer, limit your time in direct sunlight, stay hydrated, eat light, and take cool showers or baths to prevent yourself from getting heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

Other actions

Emergency Management staff monitoring for frost depth

New, local data helps combat winter weather hazards

Frost depth and freezing rain can contribute to potential hazards such as frozen water mains, spring flooding, and icy roads. Learn how to county is collecting and using local weather data to detect potential hazards and keep important infrastructure and utilities operating.

Hennepin County mesonet storm

Monitoring for extreme weather in a changing climate

Hennepin County is improving weather forecasting, making informed decisions about the weather conditions, and increasing our understanding of Hennepin County’s climate with the Hennepin West Mesonet.