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 9 a.m.
Virginia’s Statewide Tornado Drill is this morning, Tuesday, March 21, at 9:45 a.m.
The annual drill is an opportunity to take a moment and think about what you would do during a real tornado — and actually practice those actions.
Do you know what you should do?
If you are in a structure such as your residence, a small building, school, nursing home, hospital, factory, shopping center or high-rise building:
- Go to a pre-designated area such as a safe room, basement, storm cellar or the lowest building level. If there is no basement, go to the center of a small interior room on the lowest level (closet, interior hallway) away from corners, windows, doors and outside walls. Put as many walls as possible between you and the outside. Get under a sturdy table and use your arms to protect your head and neck.
- In a high-rise building, go to a small interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible.
- Put on sturdy shoes.
- Do not open windows.
If you are in a manufactured home or office:
- Get out immediately and go to a pre-identified location such as the lowest floor of a sturdy, nearby building or a storm shelter. Mobile homes, even if tied down, offer little protection from tornadoes.
If you are not in a sturdy building, possible actions include:
- Immediately get into a vehicle, buckle your seat belt and try to drive to the closest sturdy shelter. If your vehicle is hit by flying debris while you are driving, pull over and park.
- Take cover in a stationary vehicle. Put the seat belt on and cover your head with your arms and a blanket, coat or other cushion if possible.
- Lie in an area noticeably lower than the level of the roadway and cover your head with your arms and a blanket, coat or other cushion if possible.
- In all situations, however:
- Do not get under an overpass or bridge. You are safer in a low, flat location.
- Never try to outrun a tornado in urban or congested areas in a car or truck. Instead, leave the vehicle immediately for safe shelter.
- Watch out for flying debris. Flying debris from tornadoes causes most fatalities and injuries.
Learn more about tornadoes and tornado safety from Ready.gov.
Be sure to participate in this morning’s drill — and please register your participation.
After the drill is complete, be sure to register for Fairfax Alerts emergency notifications to your smartphone and email inbox. You can select specialized categories of alerts — be sure to sign up for severe weather alerts!
Posted at 1:30 p.m.
On Feb. 24, 2016, Virginia was hit by the deadliest tornado event since 1959, resulting in five fatalities and more than 45 injuries. An EF-1 tornado touched down on the Town of Waverly in Sussex County, an EF-3 tornado affected Appomattox County, and another EF-3 tornado hit the Middle Peninsula and Northern Neck region.
The National Weather Service (NWS) verified that eight tornadoes struck Virginia during that storm. These storms are a stark reminder that Virginians must prepare for the possibility of tornadoes and other natural disasters.
Virginia’s annual Statewide Tornado Drill will take place Tuesday, March 21, at 9:45 a.m.
The drill will start with a test tornado warning sent by the National Weather Service to National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) 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.
The Statewide Tornado Drill is a yearly opportunity to prepare Virginians for tornado emergencies and to test public warning systems.
“Tornadoes can occur any month of the year, and Virginia averages 16 tornadoes each year,” said Bill Sammler of the National Weather Service. “When a tornado watch is issued for your area, know where to seek safe shelter should a tornado warning be issued.”
Show your support by registering for the tornado drill. In recent years, 1 million Virginians have signed up.
For more information about how to keep yourself, your loved ones and property safe during tornadoes, visit www.vaemergency.gov/prepare-recover/threat/tornadoes.
* If widespread severe weather threatens the commonwealth on that date, then the drill will be rescheduled for Wednesday, March 22, at 9:45 a.m.
Posted at 8:45 a.m.
This year’s statewide tornado drill begins at 9:45 a.m. Hopefully you are ready to take part.
The tornado drill is an important safety exercise to prepare for nature’s most violent storms. Our state has been hit hard in the past by multiple tornadoes, including several just last month, which have cost lives and left extensive damage.
The drill will start with a message from the National Weather Service. Our Fairfax Alerts will also send a message. If you’re not yet registered for Fairfax Alerts, do so here: www.fairfaxcounty.gov/alerts.
What to Do During the Drill?
What should you do for the drill? Exactly what you would do if a tornado warning was issued for your area:
- When a warning is issued, immediately take cover.
- Move to a designated shelter such as a basement or windowless room.
- Get under a sturdy table and use your arms to protect head and neck — crouch as low as possible to the floor, face down and cover your head with your hands.
- If outdoors with no shelter, lie flat in a nearby ditch or depression and cover your head with your hands. Do not get under an overpass or bridge.
- Get out of vehicles and go to the closest shelter.
- Do not try to outrun a tornado in an urban or congested area.
Practicing these steps at least once a year will help you be better prepared when a tornado occurs near you. Because as you know, there isn’t a season for tornadoes — they can happen anywhere at any time!
And thanks in advance for taking part in today’s tornado drill.
Posted at 11 a.m.
The Feb. 24 severe storm system that spawned eight tornadoes, caused five deaths and inflicted damage to more than 400 structures is a stark reminder that tornadoes do occur in Virginia.
Since tornadoes can happen anywhere at any time, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management and the National Weather Service hold a yearly tornado drill, which is fast approaching — Tuesday, March 22, at 9:45 a.m. The drill is aimed to make everyone familiar with what to do in case a tornado were to strike your neighborhood or office building.
In this video, Sandi Fox of our emergency management office explains why you should be a part of this year’s drill.
Learn more about the drill and register to participate at www.vaemergency.gov/readyvirginia/stayinformed/tornadoes, however, registration is not necessary to participate.