During the past two years, 62 tornadoes struck Virginia, killing 10 people and injuring more than 100. To encourage tornado awareness and safety, Gov. Bob McDonnell has proclaimed March 12 as Tornado Preparedness Day.
“Tragically, many Virginia families and communities have been affected by deadly tornadoes in recent years, and recovery continues in many places,” said Michael Cline, state coordinator for the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.
“Knowing what to do when a tornado warning is issued can save your life, so we encourage everyone to participate in the upcoming Statewide Tornado Drill.”
On March 12, businesses and organizations, schools and colleges, and families and individuals are encouraged to practice taking cover from tornadoes during the Statewide Tornado Drill, set for 9:45 a.m.
At that time, the National Weather Service will send a test tornado warning that will trigger a tone alert and broadcast message on NOAA Weather Radio. The message will be picked up by TV and radio broadcasters, simulating what listeners will hear during an actual tornado warning.
When the test tornado warning is sounded, people should move as quickly as possible to a safe area in a sturdy building. Safe areas are basements, interior rooms, bathrooms, closets or hallways on the lowest level of a building.
In choosing a safe area, stay away from windows. Once in the safe area, crouch down or sit on the floor, facing down, and cover your head with your hands.
Naval Station Norfolk and JEB Little Creek-Fort Story will participate.
The Emergency Operations Center will sound a “Take Cover” siren over voice speakers which will be followed by the Exercise Tornado Warning announcement.
Commands should execute their facility’s Emergency Action Plan.
Students and staff at ODU will also participate in the exercise. An outdoor alarm system will sound to signal the start of the drill. This will happen at four buildings on the campus including the Child Study Center, Child Development Center, Student Recreation Center and ODU police headquarters. Those on campus who do not wish to participate should carry on with normal activities.
Officials at JEB Little Creek-Fort Story say base personnel may get notifications about the drill via computer or cell phone.
“The best and fastest way for anyone to get a tornado warning is by NOAA Weather Radio,” said Bill Sammler, NWS warning coordination meteorologist.
“With a weather radio, you get weather data directly from the nearest National Weather Service office. When we issue a tornado warning, the weather radio sounds an alarm or flashes lights and then gives information on where the storm is, which way it’s moving, and telling people in its path to take cover. This radio could be a lifesaver.”
NOAA Weather Radios with SAME alerts are available at electronics and sporting goods stores, discount and department stores, and online. They come in battery-powered models, and many also have AM/FM bands. A special needs NOAA Weather Radio is available as well. The special-needs NOAA Weather Radio can warn deaf and hard-of-hearing persons of hazardous conditions, giving them around-the-clock, up-to-the-minute weather information.