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Statewide Tornado Drill March 20

There is no such thing as a “tornado season.”  Tornadoes can strike anytime, anywhere.  Last year, there were 51 tornadoes in Virginia.  10 people died and more than 100 were injured.   

The tornado drill is a joint effort between the National Weather Service and the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.  On Tuesday, March 20 at 9:45 a.m., the National Weather Service will send a test tornado warning that will trigger a tone alert and broadcast message on NOAA Weather Radio, simulating what you will hear during an actual tornado warning.

Consider participating in the drill in your workplace, home or school. 

Before the drill

  • Before the drill, make sure everyone is aware that you are having a tornado drill, that they understand what will take place during the drill and that they know the safest places to be during a tornado. 
    • The safest place typically is a building’s basement away from windows.  If there is no basement, go to a windowless interior room such as a closet, bathroom or interior hall on the lowest level of the building

During the drill

  • Announce the start of the drill.
  • Everyone should act as though a tornado warning has been issued for the immediate area or a tornado has been sighted near the building.  They should evacuate as quickly as possible to the nearest safe place.  Use stairs to reach the lowest level of a building; avoid using elevators.
  • In a real tornado emergency, once people reach safe areas they would crouch as low as possible to the floor, facing down and cover their heads with their hands.  Ensure that everyone knows this.  You can practice crouching down.
  • After everyone has evacuated, announce that the tornado has passed and the drill is over. 

After the drill

  • Should there be any changes in the evacuation procedure? 
    • Do more safe areas need to be identified?
    • Are some safe areas cluttered and need to be cleaned out to be more accessible?
    • Does everyone know the fastest routes to take to safe areas?
    • Is a better method for letting family/employees know of an approaching tornado needed?

Steps to take during an actual tornado warning:

  • Take cover immediately.  Go to the lowest level possible in the nearest substantial building. 
  • Go to inner rooms with no windows such as a hallway or bathroom.
  • If in a car, try to find a substantial building.  If no building, lie face down in a culvert or ditch and protect your head.  Avoid overpasses and bridges.
  • Do not stay in mobile homes.  If you cannot move to a substantial building, lie face down in a culvert or ditch.

For more information on the tornado drill and tornadoes go to:

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