Tornado Preparedness Day Is March 17

March 10, 2009
OPA 059/09

News Highlights  

  • In 2008, 39 tornadoes struck Virginia, the second highest number ever recorded in a single year. More than 220 people were injured, with $45 million in property damage.
  • Register for the March 17 Tornado Preparedness Drill online.

More Information 

Tuesday, March 17, is Tornado Preparedness Day in Virginia. A statewide tornado drill is scheduled for 9:45 a.m., providing an opportunity to practice tornado safety plans and prepare students, employees and residents should a tornado warning be issued.

Schools, businesses, organizations and families in Fairfax County are encouraged to participate in the drill, which is a joint effort of the Virginia Department of Emergency Management and the National Weather Service. At 9:45 a.m. on March 17, the NWS will send a “test” tornado warning on NOAA Weather Radio, which will prompt radio and television stations to broadcast a test message.

When choosing safe areas, remember that tornadoes strike at all hours. Safe places need to be easy to get to and uncluttered in case of darkness when people may not be fully awake or the power is out.

For additional information about the tornado drill or to register to participate, visit the Virginia Department of Emergency Management Web site.

Should residents face a real tornado, the Fairfax County Office of Emergency Management offers these tornado safety tips:

  • “Go low and stay low,” which means to go to the lowest level of a structure away from windows and crouch in a low position with your head covered.

  • Mobile homes and cars are extremely unsafe during a tornado. Take cover inside a nearby sturdy building. If that’s not possible, lie down in a ditch away from your mobile home or car and cover your head with your hands.

  • Know the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning. A watch means current weather conditions may result in a tornado. A tornado warning means a tornado has been sighted. When a tornado warning is issued for your area, take cover immediately.

  • Be aware that the majority of tornadoes occur between 3 and 9 p.m. Think of where you would normally be during that time – at school, at work or in the car. You may only have a few seconds to react. Decide now where you would go if a tornado warning is issued.

  • Have a weather radio nearby so you can listen for tornado watches and warnings. Tornadoes also can occur with little or no advance warning. If the National Weather Service issues a tornado warning for your area, your weather radio will sound an alert, indicating you need to move to a safe area immediately.

  • Remember that tornadoes can occur any time of the year and often strike with little or no advance warning.

The Fairfax County Office of Emergency Management also encourages residents to sign up for the Community Emergency Alert Network (CEAN). The CEAN will deliver important emergency alerts, notifications and updates to county residents during severe weather, a major crisis or emergency.

Messages will be delivered to e-mail accounts, cell phones, text pagers, satellite phones and wireless PDAs registered on the system. In addition, residents may register for severe weather 24/7 or severe weather 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday-Friday, both include alerts for tornado watches and warnings. Register online.

For more information about tornado preparedness, visit the county's Emergency Information and Tornado Preparedness pages, or call the Fairfax County Office of Emergency Management at 571-350-1000, TTY 711.


Get News. Get Information. Get Fairfax County.Contact: Merni Fitzgerald, Director, Office of Public Affairs
703-324-3189, TTY 711, Media Pager: 703-324-NEWS (6397)
To request this information in an alternate format, call 703-324-3187, TTY 711

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