Tornadoes in Virginia have hit in every month of the year and in every part of the state. Everyone needs to know what to do if a tornado warning is issued for their area.
All Virginians can practice taking cover from tornadoes by participating in the annual Statewide Tornado Drill, set for Tuesday, March 12, at 9:45 a.m. Every home, business, school, organization, government office and organization can hold a tornado drill. If you can’t participate at that time, then choose another time or date that works better for you – the most important thing is to have a drill so that you can practice tornado safety.
To start the drill, the National Weather Service will send a test tornado warning at 9:45 a.m. March 12 that will trigger a tone alert and message on NOAA Weather Radio, simulating what listeners will hear during an actual tornado warning. This will prompt radio and television stations to broadcast a test message. During the drill, you should go immediately to the lowest level of your home, office or school building and move to a windowless interior hallway, room or closet. Then take a “drop, cover and hold” position. This means crouch as low as possible to the floor, facing down and covering your head with your hands.
If an actual tornado were heading your way, a NOAA Weather Radio with SAME alerts is the fastest way to get warnings. SAME stands for Specific Area Message Encoding, a feature that allows you to program your radio to hear alerts for your area. NOAA Weather Radios are available at electronics and sporting goods stores, discount and department stores, and online. Some have strobe lights for those who are hearing impaired. They come in battery-powered models, and many also have AM/FM bands, making them an excellent addition to your home and office emergency supplies.
Tornadoes are common in Virginia. During the past three years, 62 struck the Commonwealth, injuring more than 220 people and causing nearly $48 million damage to homes, businesses and other property. The Statewide Tornado Drill is a joint effort of the Virginia Department of Emergency Management and the National Weather Service.
To learn more about tornadoes, emergency preparedness, and Community Emergency Response Training, CharlottesvilleCERT.org.