RICHMOND — Virginia’s annual Statewide Tornado Drill will occur on Tuesday, March 19 at 9:45 a.m. If widespread severe weather threatens the Commonwealth on that date, the drill will be rescheduled for Wednesday, March 20, at 9:45 a.m. The 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 by the National Weather Service to National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration weather radios. NOAA weather radios will sound a tone alert and show a test message (or flash to indicate a message) to simulate what people would hear or see during an actual tornado warning.
Local radio stations, TV stations and cable outlets will broadcast the test message via the Emergency Alert System (EAS). Participants, including individual schools and businesses, should register for the drill with Virginia Department of Emergency Management. Registration information and resources are available at: http://www.vaemergency.gov/tornadodrill/.
“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 19 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 VDEM State Coordinator Dr. Jeff Stern.
“Tornadoes can occur any month of the year. In 2018, 31 confirmed tornadoes touched down throughout the Commonwealth impacting 21 different jurisdictions,” said Jeff Orrock of the National Weather Service in Wakefield. “Tornadoes occurred last year as early as January and as late as November. 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.”
VDEM works with local government, state and federal agencies and voluntary organizations to provide resources and expertise through the five mission areas of emergency management; prevention, protection, mitigation, response and recovery. To learn more about ways VDEM is working to improve disaster preparedness, response and recovery, visit www.vaemergency.gov.