Severe Weather Awareness Week starts Monday, April 9.

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

Statewide tornado drills will be held at 1:45 p.m. and 6:45 p.m. Thursday, April 12. Outdoor sirens and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather radios will sound.

Schools and businesses are encouraged to conduct a tornado drill at 1:45 p.m. to practice an emergency tornado shelter plan. Severe weather occurs most often between 3 p.m. and 8 p.m.

The 6:45 p.m. tornado drill allows individuals and families the opportunity to practice their own emergency plan at home.

"Not all disasters are worst-case scenarios. Most emergencies are small, but if not prepared, can become costly or even catastrophic," County Emergency Management Director John Bowen said in a news release.

Bowen stresses to focus on understanding weather alerts and suggests having a weather radio, battery-operated radios and a communications plan.

A free Skywarn class will be offered from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday, April 16, at the Crow Wing County Land Services Building, 322 Laurel St., in Brainerd.