In preparation for tornado season, a statewide tornado drill is scheduled for March 11 at 9:45 a.m. so people know what to do in case a twister hits. While tornados can form at any time, most occur in Virginia between April and October.
“Every year, the National Weather Service and the Virginia Department of Emergency Management take a day to focus on tornado preparedness. Tornados occur quite often in the state of Virginia, and you never know where you may be when a tornado strikes. So, it’s good to prepare and practice so you will know what to do if you ever are in a tornado,” said Patrick Collins, Prince William County’s Emergency Service Manager.
The drill will begin promptly at 9:45 a.m. with the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) transmitting their emergency notification tone followed by the tornado drill message. The drill will be transmitted on weather radios and phones with a weather radio smartphone app, which picks up and transmit NOAA warnings and advisories.
“We’d like all of the citizens in the Commonwealth to participate and move quickly to a tornado refuge area wherever they are – be it at home or work,” Collins said. These would be the areas that are the lowest and strongest places in the building, such as bathrooms, basements and interior rooms. People should avoid rooms with windows.
Collins said weather radios and smart phones with weather radio apps will alert people as to whether there is a tornado watch or a tornado warning in a real life scenario. A tornado watch means that conditions are favorable for a tornado, but has not been spotted. A tornado warning means that a tornado funnel has been sighted or that the signature of a tornado has been indicated by the National Weather service on Doppler Radar. According to Collins, “When there is a watch, you need to be alert, when there is a warning, you need to take cover.” People can also monitor local media outlets to keep abreast of the situation.