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Goodbye, winter. Hello, tornado season

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After a long, brutal winter, did you enjoy that beautiful Easter Sunday weather?

Good – now it's time to jump into another severe-weather season.

Monday marks the beginning of Severe Weather Awareness Week, an effort to get people thinking about tornadoes, flooding and other spring and summer weather emergencies.

Tornado season in Minnesota runs from spring through the fall – over the years, twisters have been reported in the state in every month from March through November, according to state Department of Natural Resources data.

A few fast facts, from the DNR:

– Minnesota averaged 27 tornadoes per year from 1950 to 2012

– There were 99 tornado-related deaths during that time span (and 1,721 tornadoes)

– Last year there were only 15 tornadoes in the state

– There were more tornadoes in Minnesota in 2010 (113) than in any other year.

– The worst months for tornadoes in the state are June (37 tornadoes average) and July (25 average).

The most expensive tornado disaster in Minnesota was May 6, 1965 when twisters hit the western and northern Twin Cities, causing $50 million in damage, MPR News notes. The deadliest Minnesota tornado hit St. Cloud and Sauk Rapids in 1886, killing 72 and injuring 213.

Among the most memorable storms in recent years was a tornado that hit north Minneapolis in 2011. (MPR images of that tornado here, as well as before/after photos here.)

This year, state officials will conduct a statewide tornado drill at 1:45 p.m. and 6:55 p.m. Thursday, when most cities and counties will activate outdoor warning siren systems. Most local and statewide radio, TV and cable stations will participate, too, sounding a simulated tornado warning message. The tornado drill warning should last about one minute, and then normal programming will resume. Schools will do special drilling this week, the Star Tribune reports.

State safety officials encourage residents this week to review family weather emergency plans.

They also ask families to arm themselves with information about alerts and warnings, severe weather/lightning and hail, flooding, and extreme heat.

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