Annual tornado drill April 25

South Dakota will observe Severe Weather Preparedness Week April 23 through 27. The National Weather Service and emergency management agencies sponsor this event to help residents to prepare for severe summer storms.

A statewide tornado drill will be conducted starting at 9:00 a.m. MDT (10:00 a.m. CDT) on Wednesday, April 25. The exercise is used to train emergency service organizations how to respond to a tornado warning. Communities may sound local warning sirens and many schools will conduct safety drills for their students. Individuals do not need to take any action during the drill.

The National Weather Service reminds people to monitor NOAA weather radio, local television and radio stations, cable TV systems, and Internet websites for weather information and understand the terms used in forecasts.

A Watch means conditions are favorable for the development of severe thunderstorms or tornadoes.

A Severe Thunderstorm Warning means a thunderstorm with wind gusts of 60 mph or higher or hail at least three-quarters of an inch in diameter is occurring. The definition of a severe thunderstorm does not include lightning. ALL thunderstorms contain lightning and should be considered dangerous.

A Tornado Warning means a tornado has been sighted or indicated by radar and people should take immediate shelter. Follow these guidelines if a tornado is observed or a warning is issued.

At home:

•Go to the basement or small interior room on the ground floor; such as a closet, bathroom or hallway.

•Get under the stairwell or a sturdy table and cover yourself with pillows or blankets.

•Avoid the corners and exterior walls of the house.

•Stay away from windows. Do not open the windows; it does not reduce damage to the structure.

•Mobile home residents should go to a shelter well before the storm reaches them. If there isn't time or a shelter available; lie flat in a ditch, ravine, or culvert away from the home and cover your head.

In public facilities or

large buildings:

•Go to the designated shelter, usually a room on the lowest level. Use the stairs - not the elevator.

•Stay away from large windows and skylights.

•Do not remain in large rooms with high, unsupported roofs; such as gymnasiums, halls or church sanctuaries.

If driving:

•Leave the vehicle. Lie flat in a low area like a ditch or culvert and cover your head. Choose a location clear of potential debris like trees and watch for rising water from heavy rain.

•Do not take shelter under a highway overpass. You can be injured when strong winds and debris are channeled through the small opening under the bridge.

•Do not try to drive away from a tornado - they can move as fast as 60 mph or change direction.

People may contact their county emergency management office at (567-3515 or visit the following websites for additional information: Rapid City National Weather Service at weather.gov/RapidCity or South Dakota Office of Emergency Management at http://oem .sd.gov.