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 9:45 a.m.
Tornadoes can happen anywhere and at any time of year, making preparedness for these potentially deadly storms even more important. For example, Fairfax County had a couple of tornado watches and tornado warnings in 2014.
To be better prepared, businesses and organizations, schools and colleges, and families and individuals can practice taking cover from tornadoes by participating in the annual Statewide Tornado Drill Tuesday, March 17, at 9:45 a.m.
Registration for the tornado drill is not necessary, but you can learn more and show your support by signing up at www.ReadyVirginia.gov.
The annual drill is a joint effort of the Virginia Department of Emergency Management and the National Weather Service (NWS).
To start the tornado drill at 9:45 a.m. on March 17, 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.
“Receiving a tornado warning as quickly as possible can make the difference between life and death,” said Bill Sammler, NWS warning coordination meteorologist. “One of the fastest ways for people to get a tornado warning is by NOAA Weather Radio, which provides warning information directly from the nearest National Weather Service office. However, cellphone apps such as Ready Virginia are also available that quickly provide critical warning information at little or no cost. Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) also provide tornado and flash flood warnings via text message to any compatible cell within the warning area, even if you are visiting or just traveling through an affected area.”
For help in conducting a tornado drill and to register for next week’s statewide drill, go to www.ReadyVirginia.gov.
Posted at 8:35 a.m.
The Statewide Tornado Drill is this morning at 9:45 a.m. Our emergency management office will send a Community Emergency Alert Network (CEAN) message announcing the drill so you won’t forget to participate. If you are not registered for CEAN alerts, take this opportunity to do so.
What You Should Do During the Drill?
- You should act as though a tornado warning has been issued for the immediate area or a tornado has been sighted near your home or office building. 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 that any visitors to your office know that this is a drill, not a real event. Assist any visitors to shelter.
- In a real tornado emergency, once you reach a safe area, crouch as low as possible to the floor, facing down and cover your heads with their hands. Ensure that everyone in your organization knows this. You can practice crouching down.
Tornadoes can happen anytime, anywhere with little or no warning. Knowing what to do when seconds count can save lives. How will you respond to a tornado warning?
Know the Terms:
- Tornado Watch – Conditions are favorable for a tornado and that tornadoes are possible.
- Tornado Warning – A tornado has been sighted or has been indicated by National Weather Service Doppler radar and might be headed your when. When a warning is issued, take cover immediately.
Do You Know What to Do if a Tornado Approaches?
If a tornado is headed your way:
- Shelter immediately in the nearest substantial building. Go to the building’s basement.
- If there is no basement in your home or office, move to a small, windowless, interior room such as a closet, bathroom or interior hall on the lowest level of the building.
- If you are in a high rise building go into an interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible.
- When shelter is not available, lie flat in a ditch or other low-lying area (do not get under an overpass or bridge).
For more information or assistance with emergency planning, contact our emergency management office at 571-350-1000, TTY 711.
Posted at 12:15 p.m.
Last month, we encouraged you to register for Virginia’s annual Statewide Tornado Drill, scheduled for Tuesday, March 12, at 9:45 a.m.
As Michael Guditus, Fairfax County’s emergency management training coordinator, explains below, there is still time to so. Check out the video for more information and to hear the benefits of participating.
To sign up for the drill, visit the Virginia Department of Emergency Management’s registration webpage.
Posted at 11:48 a.m.
It’s one month away! Virginia’s annual Statewide Tornado Drill is scheduled for Tuesday, March 12, at 9:45 a.m. The date also will be observed as Tornado Preparedness Day across the state.
The tornado drill is an important statewide safety exercise. In recent years Virginia has been hard hit by multiple tornadoes that have cost lives and left extensive property damage. Some communities continue to recover from devastating tornadoes.
In each of the past two years, some 1.2 million Virginians have registered to participate in the Statewide Tornado Drill. Registration for this year’s drill is now open. To register and to learn more about planning a tornado drill, go to www.vaemergency.gov and click through the rotating graphics at the top of the page, or go to www.ReadyVirginia.gov.
Additional help in planning a tornado drill is available through the county’s Office of Emergency Management at 571-350-1000, TTY 711. The Statewide Tornado Drill is sponsored by the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, Ready Virginia and the National Weather Service in cooperation with local emergency management offices.
You may also want to go back and look at a recap article from the county’s three-day tornado exercise held last year, “Tornado Education, Engagement and Exercise.” It includes links to resources to know the difference between a tornado watch and warning, how to recognize the danger signs of a tornado, 10 questions to ask if a tornado strikes Fairfax County, and a daily recap of each day of the exercise that provides some valuable insight into what actions the county will be going through if a major tornado were to strike here.
If widespread severe weather threatens on March 12, the drill will be rescheduled for Wednesday, March 13, at 9:45 a.m.