RICHMOND — The National Weather Service and The Virginia Department of Emergency Management have scheduled the 2020 Virginia Statewide Tornado Drill for Tuesday, March 17 at 9:45 a.m. If widespread severe weather threatens the Commonwealth on that date, the drill will be rescheduled for Wednesday, March 18, at 9:45 a.m. The annual 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 use the required monthly test, most NOAA weather radios will NOT automatically sound an alert tone alert. For those participating in the drill, including schools and businesses, turn on your NOAA Weather Radio by 9:40 am and listen to the voice broadcast. Those 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). Information and resources are available at https://www.weather.gov/akq/2020VAswpw.
“When a tornado warning is issued, that isn’t the time to figure out how to keep your loved ones, coworkers, friends and neighbors safe. Virginians should use the statewide tornado drill on March 17 as an opportunity to test their tornado emergency procedures and discuss preparedness efforts for these deadly and unexpected storms which can touch down in Virginia throughout the year,” said Virginia Department of Emergency Management State Coordinator Dr. Jeff Stern.
“Tornadoes can occur any month of the year. In 2019, 19 confirmed tornadoes touched down throughout the Commonwealth impacting 21 different jurisdictions,” said Jeff Orrock of the National Weather Service in Wakefield. “Looking back over the past decade, tornadoes occurred in every year, though there were active and quiet tornado years. 2011, 2016 and 2018 were the deadliest years for tornadoes while 2004 was by far the most active year with over 80 tornadoes reported that year. 2007 was the quietest with only two tornadoes recorded.”
Tornadoes have occurred in every month of the year, but are most likely from April through September. Have a plan, know your location and surroundings and have a way to receive Watches and Warnings from the National Weather Service. Check to see if your smartphone is set to receive Wireless Emergency Alerts. When a tornado watch is issued for your area, review your plan and know where to seek safe shelter when a tornado warning is issued.
For more information about tornado preparedness, visit vaemergency.gov/tornadoes.