Statewide Tornado Drill Set for March 20


10501 Trade Court
Richmond, Virginia 23236

Mar. 13, 2012

CONTACT: Laura Southard
(804) 897-6510 or 674-2400 

Statewide Tornado Drill Set for March 20
More than 810,000 Virginians have registered to participate

RICHMOND, Va. – It’s not too late to join in an important safety exercise, the annual Statewide Tornado Drill, scheduled for Tuesday, March 20 at 9:45 a.m.  (In case of actual severe weather on that date, the drill will be postponed to March 21.)   

To start the Statewide Tornado Drill, a test tornado warning will be sent by the National Weather Service to NOAA Weather Radios.  These radios will sound a tone alert and message or flash to indicate a message, simulating what people will hear or see during an actual tornado warning.  The test message will then be broadcast by many radio and TV stations.  This is only a test and not an actual tornado. 

When the test tornado warning is issued, people should move as quickly as possible to a safe area in a sturdy building.  Safe areas are basements and crawl spaces, as well as interior rooms, bathrooms, closets or hallways on the lowest level of a building.  In choosing a safe area, stay away from windows.  Once in the safe area, crouch down or sit on the floor, facing down, and cover heads with hands.    

For help in conducting a tornado drill and to register for the March 20 Statewide Tornado Drill, go to Although registration is not required, people participating in the statewide drill are encouraged to sign up to show their support.  The annual drill is a joint effort of VDEM and the National Weather Service, together with radio and TV broadcasters.

The best and fastest way to get a tornado warning is by NOAA Weather Radio with SAME alerts. These are available at electronics and sporting goods stores, discount and department stores, and online. They come in battery-powered models, and many also have AM/FM bands so you can hear information from local radio stations.  A special needs NOAA Weather Radio can warn deaf and hard-of-hearing persons of hazardous conditions. For more, see 

To encourage tornado awareness and safety, Gov. Bob McDonnell has proclaimed March 20 as Tornado Preparedness Day in the commonwealth.  View the Governor’s proclamation: