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Statewide tornado drill Tuesday, March 20

RICHMOND, Va. — Each year, the National Weather Service conducts a statewide tornado drill across Virginia to help individuals, schools and organizations test their emergency plans in the event of a real tornado.

The National Weather Service will issue a *test* tornado warning at 9:45 a.m. on Tuesday, March 20.  It will be sent out like a normal tornado warning, which will activate NOAA weather radios, text alerts and the Emergency Alert System (EAS).  At CBS 6, we will run a crawl at the bottom of the screen when the warning is issued.  The warning text will clearly indicate it is a test tornado warning.

It’s one thing to think about possible scenarios of what to do during a tornado warning.  However, the purpose of this drill is for people to actually prepare and implement a plan as if a real tornado warning has been issued.

The Virginia Department of Emergency Management has a comprehensive page with instructions on how to conduct a drill and prepare for an emergency.

Here is a review of tornado safety tips.  Cars and mobile homes are the worst places to be during a tornado.  Now would be a good time to formulate an alternate shelter for when severe weather is actually imminent.

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Here are some further tips depending on your dwelling or location:

  • Apartment building:   If your apartment is not on the ground floor, go to a basement laundry room or a hallway of the lowest floor. Make sure you are as far away from windows and doors as possible.  Take items to cover yourself with to protect yourself from any flying debris.
  • Office building:  If the building does not have a tornado safety plan in place, get to the lowest floor possible and stay away from windows and outside walls.  Take shelter in a bathroom or closet on the ground floor.
  • Shopping center or mall:  Follow signs for tornado or storm shelter.  If none are available, get into a bathroom on the ground floor.
  • Cars:  get to a sturdy building and seek shelter.  If there is no shelter available and the tornado is very close, get out of your car and lie flat in a ditch or lowest area, covering your body.   Despite shown in some videos online, do not seek shelter under an overpass or low bridge.
  • Mobile home:  have an evacuation plan in place before severe weather strikes.  On days with a potential for severe weather, and especially if a tornado watch or severe thunderstorm watch is issued, pay close attention to the current weather.  At the first sign of any stormy weather, leave your mobile home and get to a sturdy shelter, such as a local library or business.
  • Outside with no shelter nearby:  lie flat in a ditch or lowest location and cover your head.  Be watchful that the location is not an area that could flood quickly.

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