National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

2018 ND Severe Summer Weather Awareness Week Fact Sheet

Are you Weather-Ready?


North Dakota Severe Summer Weather Awareness Week is set for April 30

through May 4, 2018. Awareness weeks in North Dakota are joint efforts

of many agencies, including but not limited to, FEMA (Federal Emergency

Management Agency), NDDES (North Dakota Department of Emergency

Services), the North Dakota Broadcasters Association, your local emergency

manager, and NWS (National Weather Service).


Local emergency managers and media partners get the word out about severe

weather in North Dakota, helping people to be prepared. Severe Summer

Weather Awareness Week is designed to heighten awareness about the coming

severe weather season. In this case, to get us thinking less about winter storms

and more about thunderstorm hazards such as lightning, hail, high wind, flash

floods, and tornadoes. FEMA recommends in their "America's PrepareAthon!"

initiative - Be Smart (informed), Take Part (practice drills), and Prepare

(have a plan). Be Ready!

On Wednesday, May 2, we recommend practicing tornado drills in

communities, at schools, at places of business, and at home. Each community,

school district, county and Tribal Government will decide whether or not to practice

drills and to what extent. Some schools and businesses / factories will conduct

a drill for their students / staff / employees and some will not. Some communities

will test outdoor warning sirens and some will not. The NWS has no authority

over what action is or is not taken. That decision is left to local officials and

business owners. We do, of course, recommend safety measures be reviewed

and drills be practiced. Too many times when severe weather happens we reach

for the camera rather than getting to our safe place. In some cases we are

unsure of what to do because we did not take the time to prepare. As FEMA

suggests, Be Ready.

Severe Weather Safety Training, known as SKYWARN, is volunteers who are

trained in weather observing and reporting for NOAA’s National Weather Service

and its mission, the protection of life and property. SKYWARN is really one

community (neighbor) helping another in the protection of life and property.

We will also go over safety information so whether or not you want to be a spotter

come out and learn about thunderstorms and the weather they produce.


SKYWARN training topics include…(see schedule link below)

*Thunderstorm formation

*Thunderstorm hazards

*Definitions (flash flood-tornado-funnel cloud-downburst winds-microburst-etc)

*How to report severe weather to the National Weather Service

*The importance of reports (how and what to report)


*Storm type, strength, and structure


There are 2,072 trained SKYWARN spotters in 36 counties in western and

central North Dakota covered by the Bismarck NWS office. Every county and

Tribal Nation has spotters.


Doppler RADAR is an outstanding tool, but it is not a video camera or camera at all,

it does not “see” hail or wind, it does not “see” tornadoes, it does not “see” flash

floods, rather, RADAR “indicates” those things. We need your reports, ground truth,

to what is actually happening in your back yard and on your farm or ranch.


1950-2017…1,565 tornadoes in ND…average 24 per year.

2017…32 distinct tornadoes in ND affected 33 counties (one crossed a county line).

1950-2017…ND…26 tornado fatalities…360 injuries.

1990-2017…ND…3 tornado fatalities…54 injuries.


1950-2017…Largest hail stone in ND…5 inches in diameter…Mercer County

(August 3, 1969) and record tied in Sioux County, Standing Rock Nation

(July 14, 2010).


1950-2017…Highest wind gust (non-tornadic thunderstorm)…143 mph Slope

County (September 15, 1997).


1959-2017…12 lightning fatalities in ND.


Statistics over the past 30 years for the United States show that on average

each year there are 92 flood/ flash flood fatalities, 56 tornado fatalities, and

55 lightning fatalities.


Useful sites for information:


ND Department of Emergency Services:

ND Broadcasters Association link:


NWS links:   (NWS Bismarck)   (NWS Bismarck SKYWARN page with scheduled training sessions)   (NWS Grand Forks)  (NWS Grand Forks SKYWARN page with scheduled training sessions)   (safety)   (ND severe weather history)