Virginia’s annual Statewide Tornado Drill will occur at 9:45 a.m. Tuesday. 

If widespread severe weather threatens the commonwealth on that date, the drill will be rescheduled for 9:45 a.m. on Wednesday, March 20.

The Statewide Tornado Drill is an opportunity to prepare Virginians for tornado threats and to test public warning systems.

The drill will start at approximately 9:45 a.m. 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.

Locally, tornado sirens are located in the town of South Boston and town of Halifax.

The Halifax County E-911 Center receives the alert from the National Weather Service and sends a radio signal to the siren locations that sets the sirens off.

“When a tornado warning is issued, it is critical to get all alerts out as quickly as possible. All citizens should take action to get to a place of greater safety during tornado warnings. We have all seen on the news about the devastation that these storms can cause,” said South Boston Fire Department Fire Chief Steve Phillips.

Local radio stations, TV stations, social media and cable outlets will broadcast the test message via the Emergency Alert System (EAS). Participants, including individual schools and businesses, should register for the drill with VDEM.

Registration information and resources are available at http://www.vaemergency.gov/tornadodrill/.

“When a tornado warning is issued, that isn’t the time to figure out how to keep your loved ones, coworkers, friends and neighbors safe. Virginians should use the statewide tornado drill on Tuesday as an opportunity to test their tornado emergency procedures and discuss preparedness efforts for these deadly and unexpected storms which can touch down in Virginia throughout the year,” said Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) State Coordinator Dr. Jeff Stern.

“Tornadoes can occur any month of the year. In 2018, 31 confirmed tornadoes touched down throughout the commonwealth impacting 21 different jurisdictions,” said Jeff Orrock of the National Weather Service in Wakefield. “Tornadoes occurred last year as early as January and as late as November. Have a plan, know your location and surroundings and have a way to receive Watches and Warnings from the National Weather Service. Check to see if your smartphone is set to receive Wireless Emergency Alerts. When a tornado watch is issued for your area, review your plan and know where to seek safe shelter when a tornado warning is issued.”

Phillips added, “In any case, take cover to protect yourself. Tornados sometimes pop up in a storm even before an alert is issued. Always use caution anytime that a strong storm is predicted.”