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Tuesday’s statewide tornado drill pushes preparedness

From 2011 to 2013, a total of 67 tornadoes struck Virginia, killing 10 people and injuring more than 100.  

To encourage tornado awareness and safety, Gov. Terry McAuliffe proclaimed March 11 as Tornado Preparedness Day in the commonwealth, and a statewide tornado drill was conducted at 9:45 a.m. Tuesday morning.  

Town of South Boston Emergency Services conducted a siren test as part of this event. 

“At least four tornadoes already have been recorded in Virginia this year,” said Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran. “Fortunately, no one was hurt, but these destructive storms often form with little notice. It is so important that we all learn and practice what to do to be safe when a tornado warning is issued.” 

Tornado Preparedness Day is set aside for businesses and organizations, schools and colleges and families and individuals to focus on tornado safety procedures and to learn where to seek shelter during a tornado warning.  

As part of the day, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management and the National Weather Service sponsored the Statewide Tornado Drill.  

To start the drill, at 9:45 a.m. the National Weather Service sent a test tornado warning that triggered a tone alert and broadcasted message on NOAA Weather Radio. The message was picked up by TV and radio broadcasts, simulating what listeners will hear during an actual tornado warning.  

When the test tornado warning was sounded, students at area schools and residents were advised to move as quickly as possible to a safe area in a sturdy building. 

Safe areas are basements and interior rooms on the lowest level of a building such as bathrooms, closets or hallways. In choosing a safe area, persons were advised to stay away from windows.  

Once in the safe area, people were advised to crouch down or sit on the floor facing down and cover heads with hands.