Posted at 11 a.m.
Did you know that over the last decade, Virginia has averaged 24 tornadoes per year?
Tornadoes may strike quickly, with little to no warning, causing extensive damage to structures and disrupting transportation, power, water, gas, communications and other services in its direct path and surrounding areas.
That’s why Virginia conducts an annual tornado drill. This year’s drill will be held on Tuesday, March 19, at 9:45 a.m.
In recent years, one million Virginians have signed up to participate. Join your neighbors and participate in the annual tornado drill; register at www.vaemergency.gov/tornadodrill.
Then on March 19 at approximately 9:45 a.m., the National Weather Service will send a test tornado warning over NOAA Weather Radios. This test signal will sound a tone alert, show a test message or flash to indicate a message, simulating what people would hear or see during an actual tornado warning. Local radio stations, TV stations and cable outlets will also broadcast the test message via the Emergency Alert System.
When you hear the test signal, start your drill. As in real life, move to a safe area, crouch as low as possible to the floor, face down and cover your head with your hands.
- If you can safely get to a sturdy building, then do so immediately.
- Go to a safe room, basement or storm cellar.
- If you are in a building with no basement, then get to a small interior room on the lowest level.
- Stay away from windows, doors, and outside walls.
- Do not get under an overpass or bridge. You’re safer in a low, flat location.
- Watch out for flying debris that can cause injury or death.
- Do not try to outrun a tornado in a vehicle.
- If you are in a car or outdoors and cannot get to a building, cover your head and neck with your arms and cover your body with a coat or blanket, if possible.
Learn more online at www.vaemergency.gov/tornadodrill.
Posted at 4 p.m.
Don’t forget — tomorrow morning at 9:45 a.m. is the statewide tornado drill. You’ll want to practice what you would do should you face a real tornado. Your quick action is important!
At approximately 9:45 a.m. tomorrow, Tuesday, March 20, the National Weather Service will send a test tornado warning over NOAA Weather Radios. This test signal will sound a tone alert, show a test message or flash to indicate a message, simulating what people would hear or see during an actual tornado warning. Local radio stations, TV stations and cable outlets will also broadcast the test message via the Emergency Alert System.
To participate, start your tornado drill when you hear the test signal over NOAA Weather Radio or broadcast media.
Remember that the safest place typically is a building’s basement away from windows; if there is no basement, go to a windowless interior room such as a closet, bathroom or interior hall on the lowest level of the building.
Once you are in a safe area, crouch as low as possible to the floor, facing down and cover your head with your hands.
During the Drill
- Act as though a tornado warning has been issued for the immediate area or a tornado has been sighted near your location. Move as quickly as possible to the nearest shelter or other safe place. Use stairs to reach the lowest level of a building; avoid using elevators.
- Make sure any visitors to your workplace know that this is a drill and not a real event; assist visitors to shelter.
- Remind participants that when they reach their safe area during a real tornado threat, they must crouch as low as possible to the floor, facing down and covering their heads with their hands. Ensure that everyone in your group knows this.
- After everyone has moved to a safe place, the drill coordinator can announce that the tornado has passed and the drill is over.
Posted at 1 p.m.
It’s not too late to register for the 2018 Virginia Tornado Drill to be held at 9:45 a.m. on Tuesday, March 20 — although registration is required by the end of the day today. (Registration is required by the state to be completed at least seven days prior to the drill.)
The drill is a yearly opportunity to prepare for tornado emergencies and to test public warning systems.
How to Participate
Just register for the tornado drill online. If you don’t get “officially” registered, you can still conduct your own tornado drill on March 20.
In recent years, 1 million Virginians have signed up for the drill.
If you need assistance or have questions, feel free to contact our emergency management office at 571-350-1000, TTY 711.
How the Drill Works
At approximately 9:45 a.m. on March 20, the National Weather Service will send a test tornado warning over NOAA Weather Radios. This test signal will sound a tone alert, show a test message or flash to indicate a message, simulating what people would hear or see during an actual tornado warning. Local radio stations, TV stations and cable outlets will also broadcast the test message via the Emergency Alert System.
To participate, start your own tornado drill when you hear the test signal over NOAA Weather Radio or broadcast media.
* If widespread severe weather threatens on March 20, the drill will be rescheduled for Wednesday, March 21, at 9:45 a.m.
Tornado History in Virginia
- On Friday, March 31, 2017, two tornadoes touched down in the Hampton Roads region, including an EF-2 tornado with winds exceeding 120 mph. The tornado was on the ground for eight miles in the cities of Virginia Beach and Chesapeake damaging more than 200 homes.
- Virginians felt the destructive force of tornadoes again on April 6 in Lancaster County, near Irvington, when an EF-1 tornado, producing winds in excess of 90 mph, touched down damaging 45 structures.
- A storm system passing through the Commonwealth on May 5 produced nine tornadoes throughout the state.
- In April and August, communities in Northern Virginia were impacted by several EF-0 tornadoes.
- Several EF-1 tornadoes impacted communities throughout Southwest Virginia in October.
These are just some of the highlights of tornado activity across the state in 2017, but they are a stark reminder that Virginians, in all regions of the commonwealth, must prepare for the possibility of tornadoes and other natural disasters.
Posted at 10 a.m.
On Tuesday, Fairfax County held an emergency exercise — Operation Thunderbolt Strikes — at multiple locations including Tysons Corner Center, the county’s Government Center and the county’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC).
The exercise was held to test the coordination, command and control between the county’s EOC and field command locations, as well as test emergency planning and response capabilities, validate several emergency plans and improve the level of response in case of a complex coordinated attack.
In this video, Michael Guditus, exercise director and assistant coordinator of the county’s Office of Emergency Management, discusses the exercise and what organizers were hoping to accomplish.
Fairfax County holds numerous exercises and events throughout the year, including tabletop discussions and more involved functional and full-scale drills. The exercises range from agency-level scenarios to multi-agency, county-level and regional events.
For more on Operation Thunderbolt Strikes or the county’s training and exercise program, contact the Office of Emergency Management at 571-350-1000, TTY 711.