Residents Encouraged to Register and Participate in Upcoming Tornado Drill

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Provided by Prince William Fire & Rescue

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“Tornadoes can happen anytime, anywhere in Virginia; they don’t have a season,” states Prince William County Fire and Rescue Chief Kevin McGee. “Knowing what to do during a tornado warning can save your life.”

According to the Virginia Department of Emergency Management:

  • Virginia averages 18 tornadoes annually.
  • Seven weak tornadoes were recorded in Virginia in 2015 and 12 in 2014, making both below-average years for tornadoes.
  • From 2011 – 2013, there were 67 tornadoes in Virginia. Ten people died in 2011 due to tornadoes.
  • On July 24, 2014, an EF-1 tornado tracked for eight miles, partially over water, through the Cherrystone Campground in Northampton County. Straight-line wind and baseball-sized hail produced by the same storm caused considerable damage, with two deaths and 36 injuries resulting from the storm, reported the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
  • On February 24, 2016, an EF-1 tornado touched down in Waverly, Virginia. The tornado’s deadly path stretched 300 yards wide for nine miles and destroyed numerous homes and businesses, resulting in three deaths and seven injuries.

The annual drill is a joint effort of the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (vaemergency.gov/readyvirginia/stay-informed/tornado/conductdrill) and the National Weather Service (nws.noaa.gov/om/severeweather/index.shtml). Registration for the tornado drill is not necessary, but people can learn more about tornado safety and show their support by signing up at ReadyVirginia.gov. Everyone in Virginia can participate, including businesses and organizations, schools and colleges, and families and individuals.

To start the drill, the NWS 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 broadcasts, 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 and interior rooms on the lowest level of a building such as bathrooms, closets or hallways. When choosing a safe area, stay away from windows. Once in the safe area, people should crouch down or sit on the floor facing down, and cover heads with hands.

One of the fastest ways people receive information regarding a tornado warning is a Weather Radio. A Weather Radio provides information directly from the nearest National Weather Service office. When a tornado warning is issued, 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. PWL This radio could be a lifesaver.

NOAA Weather Radios with SAME alerts that target warnings to specific areas of the state 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.

For more information on conducting a tornado drill and/or registration for the statewide drill, go to ReadyVirginia.gov.

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