Tornado Preparedness Day 2016

March 21, 2016  //  

RICHMOND – Governor Terry McAuliffe has proclaimed March 22 as Tornado Preparedness Day in the Commonwealth. The proclamation comes less than a month after eight tornadoes swept through Virginia, killing five people and damaging more than 400 structures.

“We were reminded last month just how vulnerable Virginia is to tornadoes, and we saw their devastating effects,” said State Coordinator Dr. Jeff Stern. “You may only have seconds to get to safety if a tornado warning is issued for your area, making it that much more important to practice ahead of time.”

Tornado Preparedness Day is set aside for businesses, schools, colleges, families and individuals to focus on tornado safety procedures, including where to go for shelter during a tornado warning. As part of the day, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) and the National Weather Service (NWS) sponsor the Statewide Tornado Drill.

The NWS will initiate the drill at 9:45 a.m. by sending a test tornado warning that will trigger a tone alert and broadcast message on National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio. TV and radio stations will broadcast the message via the Emergency Alert System, which will simulate what listeners will hear during an actual tornado warning. A tornado warning, in real life, means a tornado has been sighted or indicated by radar.

When the test tornado warning alert is sounded, drill participants should simulate what they would do during an actual tornado by moving as quickly as possible to a safe area:

  • Sturdy buildings: Move to a basement or interior room on the lowest level of the building such as a bathroom, closet or hallway. Stay away from windows. Crouch down or sit on the floor facing down, and cover your head with your hands.
  • Open buildings (shopping mall, gym or civic center): Move to a bathroom or interior hallway. If there is no time, get up against a part of the building that will support or deflect falling debris. Protect your head by covering it with your arms.
  • Cars and trucks: Get out of your vehicle and move inside a sturdy building. A culvert or ditch can provide shelter if a substantial building is not nearby. Lie down flat and cover your head with your hands. Do not get under an overpass or bridge. You are safer in a low, flat location.
  • Outdoors: Try to find shelter immediately in the nearest sturdy building. If no buildings are close, lie down flat in a ditch or depression and cover your head with your hands.
  • Mobile homes: Leave the mobile home immediately and seek shelter inside a nearby sturdy building, or lie down in a ditch away from your home, covering your head with your hands.

Virginia experiences an average of 15 to 20 tornadoes annually, according to NOAA. Tornadoes have appeared in Virginia in every month, but the months with the most tornadoes have historically been April through September.

For more information about tornado preparedness and to register for the Statewide Tornado Drill, go to View Governor McAuliffe’s proclamation:


Contact Information:
Phone: 804-674-2400

Be ready. Be willing to help.

Virginia Disaster Relief Fund