Minnesota Severe Weather Awareness Week starts Monday, April 8, and ends April 12.

Crow Wing County collaborates each year with the National Weather Service, Minnesota Department of Public Safety and local government agencies to inform, remind and prepare residents about the potential hazards of the upcoming severe weather season.

Severe weather occurs most often between 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. Statewide tornado drills will be at 1:45 p.m. and 6:45 p.m. Thursday, April 11. Outdoor sirens and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather radios will sound alarms during the drill.

Schools and businesses are encouraged to conduct a tornado drill at 1:45 p.m. to practice an emergency tornado shelter plan. The 6:45 p.m. tornado drill allows individuals and families the opportunity to practice their own emergency plan at home.

"This is the perfect time to engage communities, schools and businesses to talk about emergency plans and how they can best prepare for the upcoming severe weather season," Crow Wing County Emergency Management Director John Bowen said in a news release.

Residents are encouraged to sign up for Crow Wing County ALERTS. The ALERTS system provides individuals and businesses with critical information quickly for situations like severe weather, evacuations, missing persons and unexpected road closures.

There will be a full ALERTS system test on April 11 when all participants will receive a test alert. Register at https://crowwing.us/356/Emergency-Management or call emergency management at 218-829-4749.

"Being prepared can reduce fear, anxiety and losses that come with emergency situations. We are fortunate to live in an age where our technology can communicate with us almost anywhere and give us advanced warning of impending hazards or other information," Bowen said.

Two free Skywarn classes will be at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 9, to train weather spotters. The meetings will be at the Crow Wing County Land Services Building (Meeting Room 1), 322 Laurel St. in Brainerd. No registration is required.

For more information, contact emergency management at 218-829-4749 or check out the sheriff's office Facebook page for more severe weather information. More resources available at www.weather.gov or www.ready.gov.