High rivers around the region and a Sunday of stormy weather are underscoring this year's transition from winter to severe weather season.

Severe Weather Awareness Week begins Monday, and officials are urging Minnesotans to be alert to the quickly developing threats warm weather can bring, from tornadoes and hail to flash floods, as well as heat itself.

A key feature this year will be two statewide tornado drills Thursday, accompanied by sirens.

"We don't want people to think the worst of it is over when the floods stop. It's just beginning," said Kristine Chapin, spokeswoman for the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. "The question is: Are you ready for anything right now?"

The department is devoting each weekday to an aspect of severe weather. For details on severe weather risks and strategies for being prepared, see www.severe weather.state.mn.us. Information is also available at 651-201-7426.

Severe weather information is also available in several languages at www.echominnesota.org and 888-883-8831.