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201 4th Street SE
Rochester, Mn 55904 (Map)

Phone: 507-328-2800
Fax: 507-328-2829

Mon-Fri 8:00 am to 5:00 pm

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Emergency Management - Weather Safety

Weather Safety

This section has articles about weather safety.  Explore how you can stay safe from weather hazards. Learn how to handle Downed Power Lines.  Discover the best place to shelter during a tornado.  Below is our featured article for this season, and on the left you can find weather safety information for other seasons.  Your safety is our concern.

Featured Article

Heat Wave Safety

During Excessive Heat Warnings issued by National Weather Service La Crosse, the City of Rochester urges residents to take steps to cool off:

  • Take a trip to the pool - Foster-Arend is a free un-guarded swimming area for a cool dip.  Foster Arend hours are 10:00 am – 8:00 pm daily.   Soldier's Field and Silver Lake Park swimming pools are inexpensive alternatives.  During high heat days, pool hours are often extended.  Call (507) 328-2525 for hours of operation.
  • Go shopping - big box stores, shopping centers, and other retail stores are cool inside
  • Watch a movie - a cool get-a-way can be found inside an air conditioned theater
  • Need a ride? Free bus rides on Rochester Public Transit if you tell the driver you want a ride to “A Cool Place” – only during extreme heat warning
  • Read a book - Rochester Public Library offers cool places to read and beat the heat.  Open on Monday - Thursday 9:30 am - 9:00 pm (Closed on 4th of July), Friday 9:30 am - 5:30 pm, and Saturday 9:30 am to 1:30 pm
Other tips for beating the heat include:
  • Keep up on fluids - drinking water is the best bet.  Avoid water zapping fluids like alcohol, coffee, and tea.  
  • Stay inside - Locally, the heat will feel like over 100F in the shade.  Stay indoors, in air conditioning, or go to a place that has air conditioning
  • Dress lightly - wear loose and light clothing.  Light colors help to keep cool, and look cool, too!
  • Take a bath - if you cannot go out, how about a quick rinse-off in the tub?
  • Limit physical exercise. Encourage event participants to limit their outdoor activity and conduct them during the cooler hours of the day—morning and evening.
  • Just using a fan? – not cool!  Don’t rely solely on electric fans. Electric fans will not prevent heat-related illnesses when the temperature reaches the high 90s and above. 
 If you must go outside, consider these safety tips:
  • Limit time in heat - work for shorter stretches, and keep up on liquids
  • Be aware of heat stress - dizzy, pale skin, excessive sweating, and fast pulse are early signs of heat exhaustion.  Get cool, fast, and stay cool until recovered
  • Heat Stroke is hot, red skin, no sweating, and confusion, even unconsciousness - this is nothing to mess with; go to hospital.  Heat stroke can be fatal.
  • Work early in morning, or after the sun goes down - if you have to work outdoors, at least use the cooler parts of the day for activity
Caution - Think Twice in High Heat
  • Never leave pets or children in the car - even for a minute!

Warning, Watches, Advisories

Weather Terms: Which is worse - warning or advisory?

The National Weather Service uses the words "advisory", "watch" and "warning" to alert you to potentially dangerous weather. Understanding these terms and knowing how to react can be a life saver. 


An advisory is issued when a hazardous weather or hydrologic event is occurring, imminent or likely. Advisories are for less serious conditions than warnings that cause significant inconvenience and if caution is not exercised, could lead to situations that may threaten life or property.


A watch means weather conditions are favorable for dangerous weather to occur. In other words, a "watch" means watch out for what the weather could do, and be ready to act accordingly.  You may wish to alter or have a back-up plan for any outdoor activities or travel.

For events that come and go quickly, such as severe thunderstorms, tornadoes or flash floods, a watch means that the odds are good for the dangerous weather, but it's not yet happening.

When a severe thunderstorm, tornado or flash flood watch is in effect, it means you should look for signs of dangerous weather and maintain access to the latest information.  Sometimes a severe thunderstorm, tornado or flash flood can happen so quickly that warnings can't be issued in time. 

For longer-lived events, such as floods or winter storms, a watch means that the event isn't an immediate threat. For either kind of event, a watch means you should keep up with the weather news and be ready to act.

A winter storm watch means it's time to prepare by stocking up on emergency supplies and making sure you know what to do if a warning is issued.

Warnings - The most serious threats

For severe thunderstorms, tornadoes and flash floods, a warning means the weather event is imminent or occurring somewhere in the defined warning area and that people need to take shelter as soon as possible. 

Sirens give warnings to people who are outdoors.  People indoors should listen to radios, TV or Weather Radio warnings to find out the latest information.  Check with local emergency management officials to learn about local siren activations.

A winter storm warning means it's not safe to venture out side. If traveling, head for the nearest shelter.

How Alerts Are Issued

Before watches and warnings are issued, local emergency management will send alerts via Rochester Alert.  Information is also issued by the National Weather Service, private forecasters, newspapers, radio and television.  Local emergency management and other groups try to alert the public to potential weather dangers.

Forecasters may begin issuing bulletins on winter storms up to three or four days before a storm hits.

But forecasters can't issue alerts for the danger of severe thunderstorms, tornadoes and flash floods that far ahead. Usually, the NWS Storm Prediction Center sends out alerts the day before dangerous weather is likely. Most television weathercasters highlight these alerts on the evening news the day before threatening weather.

Weather Radios

A weather radio is one of the best ways to stay tuned-in to dangerous weather. These radios receive broadcasts from the National Weather Service. The broadcasts are from local weather service offices.

Broadcasts include ordinary forecasts of several kinds, including for boating, farming, traveling and outdoor recreation as well as general forecasts for the area.

The stations also broadcast all watches and warnings. Some weather radios have a feature that turn on the radio automatically when a watch or warning is broadcast. Such "tone alert" weather radios are highly recommended for places where large numbers of people could be endangered by tornadoes or flash floods. These include schools, nursing homes, shopping center security offices, hospitals, and recreation areas such as swimming pools.