Watertown, SD -- A statewide tornado drill will take place throughout South Dakota today, including Watertown and Milbank. The drill, which is part of the state's Severe Weather Awareness Week activities, will take place between 9:00 and 9:30 am MDT (10:00 and 10:30 am CDT). Because the exercise is used to ensure communications and warning systems are functioning properly before storm season, people will see and hear the actual alerts used for tornadoes. Communities may sound local warning sirens, although the sirens may not be heard inside homes and buildings, especially large office buildings, as they are intended to alert people who are outdoors away from radio or TV. Local emergency response agencies may practice their response procedures and schools will conduct safety drills for their students.
The drill will also include a test of the Emergency Alert System, which will interrupt local media broadcasts. The scroll on television will look like a real warning, while the audio will be identified as a test.
Cell phone alerts and other electronic notification systems will not be involved in the test.
Information on preparing for storms is on the Severe Weather Preparedness Week web page. People may also contact their county emergency management office or the Black Hills Area Chapter of the American Red Cross for additional information.