During Severe Weather Awareness Week, Thursday brings tornadoes to our attention.

On Thursday, April 16, the state will issue two tornado drills at 1:45PM and 6:55PM. The first drill is intended for businesses and schools. The evening drill is intended for second-shift workers and families.

According to the National Weather Service, Minnesota experiences an average of 40 tornadoes per year. In 2012, 37 twisters touched down. A record was set in 2010 with 104 tornadoes across the state.

Sirens normally sound for three minutes and then go silent. When the sirens are activated, take shelter and turn on a radio for more information. NOTE: There is no "all-clear" siren.

Here is what to do during a tornado:

  • In a house with a basement: Avoid windows, get under sturdy protection or cover yourself with a mattress or sleeping bag. Do not get under very heavy objects -- pianos, refrigerators, etc. They may fall down through a weakened floor.
  • In a building without a basement (house, apartment, dorm, condo, office, store, or hospital): Avoid windows. Go to the lowest level, crouch down and cover your head. Interior stairwells are a good place to take shelter. Stay off the elevators.
  • In a mobile home: Get out, seek a community tornado shelter or a sturdy permanent building within easy running distance.
  • At a school: Follow the drill. Go to the interior hall or room, crouch down, head down and protect your head with your arms. Stay away from windows and open rooms like gyms and auditoriums.
  • In a car or truck: If a tornado is visible -- far away -- and the traffic is light, move at right angles to the tornado and you may be able to drive away from its path. Otherwise, park the car out of traffic, get out and seek shelter in a sturdy building. If in the open country, run to low ground away from any cars, lie flat and face-down, protecting the back of your head. Avoid seeking shelter under bridges. Wind can accelerate while offering little protection against flying debris.
  • In the open outdoors: If possible seek 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.