Rochester, MN (KROC AM News) - A reminder there will be statewide tornado drills conducted Thursday in Minnesota, including the activation of outdoor warning sirens in many communities.

Residents, businesses and other organizations are asked to consider taking advantage of the drills by testing tornado safety plans at work, school, or home.

Here is the schedule:

1:00 p.m. test tornado watch issued
1:45 p.m. test tornado warnings issued
6:45 p.m. test tornado warnings issued

There were 36 confirmed tornadoes in Minnesota last year, starting in late May and ending in early September. The state’s annual average is 36. 

The highest total in one year in Minnesota is 113, set in 2010. Two other tornado records were set that year. The 71 that were confirmed in June 2010 were the most for any month. On one day that month - the 17th - 48 tornadoes were confirmed, the most of any day on record in Minnesota.  

A tornado record was set in the state last month when three twisters were confirmed March 6th.That was the earliest date in Minnesota history that a tornado was recorded. One caused damage in Freeborn County and another in nearby Faribault County. The third touched down in Sherburne County.

One of the deadliest tornadoes in Minnesota history struck Rochester on Aug 21,1883. It killed 37 people, making it the fourth deadliest in state history. Another 200 people were injured. The city’s medical response to the tornado is often cited as the beginning of Mayo Clinic.

Some tornado tips from the National Weather Service:

Before the Tornado...
Tornado watches highlight the area where tornadoes are most likely to develop. Continue with your normal activities, but keep informed of the latest weather information and be ready to get to shelter in case tornadoes develop quickly.

In the Home...
Go to the basement if possible. Get under a table, work bench, or some other sturdy furniture to avoid falling debris. A stairwell is also a good place to hide during a tornado.

If You Cannot Get to a Basement...
Go to a small interior room on the lowest floor. Closets, bathrooms, and interior halls afford the best protection in most cases, or try to hide under a bed. Get under something sturdy or cover yourself with blankets. Stay away from windows.

In an Apartment, School or Office Building...
Move to the inner-most room on the lowest level or to a pre-designated shelter area. Stay away from windows. If in a hallway, crouch down and protect your head from flying debris. Avoid areas with glass and large roof expansions.

In a Mobile Home, Car, Truck or Other Vehicle...
Abandon these as quickly as possible. Seek a sturdy shelter or permanent structure. Remember that many deaths occur when people try to drive away in a vehicle, but get caught in the deadly winds. Avoid bridges since they act as wind tunnels.

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