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Statewide Tornado Drill on Tuesday (3/12) at 9:45 a.m.

Charlottesville is not in ‘Tornado Alley” but during the past two years, 62 twisters hit Virginia. It’s critically important to know what to do when a tornado warning is issued. Businesses and organizations, schools and colleges, families and individuals can practice taking cover during the Virginia Statewide Tornado Drill, set for approximately 9:45 a.m. on Tuesday, March 12. The annual drill is a joint effort of the National Weather Service and the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.

The first step toward being prepared is to know the lingo:

  • Tornado Watch -- conditions are right for tornado formation; remain alert to weather conditions.
  • Tornado Warning -- a tornado has been sighted; take shelter immediately.

At the start of the drill a test tornado warning will be sent by the NWS to NOAA Weather Radios. These radios will sound a tone alert and message, or flash to indicate a message, simulating what people will hear or see during an actual tornado warning. The test message then will be broadcast by many local radio and TV stations. At that time, take a minute to figure out where to take cover in case of a tornado warning:

  • GOOD -- Sturdy buildings
    Go to the basement and stay away from windows. If there is no basement, move to a small, windowless interior room such as a closet, bathroom or interior hall on the lowest level of the building. Face an interior wall, crouch low to the ground, and protect your head by covering it with your arms.
  • BAD -- Open buildings, outdoors, vehicles, mobile homes or trailers
    Find shelter inside the nearest sturdy building. If there is no time to go anywhere else, seek shelter right where you are. Stay low against a strong wall, or lie down flat in a ditch or depression. Protect your head by covering it with your arms.

Registration for the Statewide Tornado Drill is not required, but you are encouraged to sign up to show support. Learn more about tornado safety, how to hold a drill, and how to register for the drill at

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