Virginians Prepare & Participate In Statewide Tornado Drill

- CLARKE COUNTY, VIRGINIA (WHAG) - Even though a few snowflakes are still in the forecast, Spring it right around the corner, and now is the time to prepare for severe weather, as we will be getting into severe weather season soon. Residents in the Commonwealth of Virginia took today to preapre as part of Tornado Awareness Day 2014.

"..... The National Weather Service in Sterling, Virginia has issued... This is a test message... Tornado Warning for... All of Virginia... Until 10:00 AM...." went across the NOAA Weather Radios and Emergency Alert System all across Northern Virginia earlier Tuesday Morning.

Businesses, organizations, local and state government agencies and many schools in Virginia took part in Tuesday morning's annual statewide tornado drill... Which was coordinated by the Virginia Department of Emergency Management and the National Weather Service.
Christopher Strong , Warning Coordination Meteorologist at the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Baltimore/Washington says, "It's a way to make sure people get that message if a tornado warning gets issued, which is the first step... Then the second step is that they know what to do with that message if they did actually get a Tornado Warning"
After the National Weather Service issued the Test Tornado Warning and the announcements were made… students filed out of their classrooms and got into the safety areas at Boyce Elementary School in Clarke County. We followed along as administrators checked and cleared the school from this years drill, and this drill played an important role in families all across Virginia.

"I think this information is important because we need students to be safe, and by practicing these drills, we're ensuring that should a real occasion occur, that they know what to do, and our teachers and staff know what to do as well", said Nicole Mccowan, Assistant Principal at Boyce Elementary School in Clarke County, VA.
Over one million people from other schools and businesses in Virginia registered for the drill... And it's something meteorologists at the national weather service say can happen no matter what time of the year it is.
Strong says, "Just a couple of weeks ago there was a small tornado that touchdown in the Northern Neck of Virginia before it went into Southeast Maryland, so really we can get them anytime of year, and we have had tornadoes happen in this area any time of year, so we always need to be ready for them."

Here are some safety tips, should you be in an area that goes under a Tornado Warning:

If you are in a structure (e.g. residence, small building, school, nursing home, hospital, factory, shopping center, high-rise building)

•Go to a pre-designated shelter area such as a safe room, basement, storm cellar, or the lowest building level. If there is no basement, go to the center of an 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 trailer or mobile home

•Get out immediately and go to 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 outside with no shelter

•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.
•Stay in the car with the seat belt on. Put your head down below the windows; cover your head with your hands and a blanket, coat or other cushion if possible.
•If you can safely get noticeably lower than the level of the roadway, leave your car and lie in that area, covering your head with your hands
•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.

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