TORNADO DRILL – MARCH 16, 2021 at 9:45 a.m.
Virginia’s annual Statewide Tornado Drill will occur on Tues., March 16 at 9:45 a.m. If widespread severe weather threatens the Commonwealth on that date, the drill will be rescheduled for Wed., March 17, at 9:45 a.m. The Statewide Tornado Drill is an opportunity to prepare Virginians for tornado threats and to test public warning systems.
The drill will start at approximately 9:45 a.m. with a test tornado warning sent in the form of a Required Monthly Test by the National Weather Service to National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather radios and local broadcasters. Since this year’s drill will utilize the Required Monthly Test, most NOAA weather radios will NOT automatically sound an alert tone. For those participating in the drill, including schools and businesses, it is suggested to turn on your NOAA Weather Radio by 9:40 am, listening to the voice broadcast. Those with their NOAA Weather Radio on and listening to the broadcast will hear the audible test alert broadcast at 9:45 am. Local radio stations, TV stations, and cable outlets will also broadcast the test message via the Emergency Alert System (EAS).
We are encouraging groups to exercise precautions. We would encourage each organization to determine on their own the extent to which they participate in the drill. For some organizations, just having some time to review the plan of how to get the warning and where people need to go for safety may be enough. If other organizations can safely complete the drill while wearing masks and physical distancing that is good, too. But having already canceled the drill last year, we want to make sure that we have it this year and let you decide how best it is for your organization to participate. Because, even in the COVID environment, if a tornado warning is issued, people will need to respond as that threat becomes the more immediate threat to life and property.
What is a tornado?
A tornado is a violently rotating column of air that extends from the clouds to the ground and is often, although not always, visible as a funnel cloud. Lightening and hail are common in storms that produce tornadoes.
Tornadoes may strike quickly, with little to no warning, causing extensive damage to structures and disrupting transportation, power, water, gas, communications and other services in its direct path and in neighboring areas.
TORNADO WATCH – BE AWARE
TORNADO WARNING – TAKE ACTION
before a tornado
- Identify safe rooms or protective locations at home, school or work before a tornado threat arises so that you have a plan for where to go for safety when a tornado warning is issued.
- Be alert to changing weather conditions and time in to NOAA weather radio, local media and social media for the latest information.
- Look for the following danger signs: dark, often greenish sky; large hail; large, dark, low-lying cloud formation or rotation; or a loud roar similar to a freight train.
- Have an emergency communication plan in place for your family.
- Build an emergency kit by downloading our checklist online at www.vaemergency.gov!
During a tornado
IN A BUILDING?
- Go to a safe room: basement, cellar, or the lowest building level.
- If there is no basement, go to an inside room: a closet or hallway.
- Stay away from corners, windows, doors and outer walls. Never open windows.
- Protect your head!
IN A MOBILE HOME?
- Get out immediately and go to the closest building or storm shelter.
IN A MOBILE HOME OR CAN’T FIND SHELTER?
- Get into a vehicle and buckle your seatbelt.
- Put your head down below the windows and cover your head with your hands.
- If there is no car or shelter, try to find a ditch or area lower than the ground to lie down in. You are safer in a low, flat location than under a bridge or highway overpass.
While tornadoes are most common in the central part of the U.S. known as “Tornado Alley,” Virginia has seen it’s fair share of twisters. In 2004 there were 87 recorded tornadoes, and in 2017 we saw 25 tornadoes.