Virginia Tech will test its Emergency Notification System on Tuesday, March 17 at 9:45 a.m. This time was selected in order to participate in the statewide tornado drill scheduled for the same time. Tornado Preparedness Day in Virginia is March 17.

At this time, the university will test its outdoor sirens and all components of the Emergency Notification System, which includes electronic message boards in classrooms, VT Alerts, campus-wide e-mail, and homepage alerts.

The Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) suggests that all residents become familiar with Tornado Basics.

  • A Tornado Watch means that conditions are favorable for a tornado and that tornadoes are possible.
  • A Tornado Warning means that a tornado has been sighted or has been indicated by National Weather Service Doppler radar and might be headed your way. When a warning is issued, take cover immediately.


Visit the VDEM website for more information.

Responding to Tornadoes

Know What To Do
Stay tuned to your local radio or TV for weather reports, or listen to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather radio for more detailed information when weather conditions are favorable for the formation of tornadoes.

When a tornado watch is issued:

  • Tornadoes could develop in your area.
  • Stay tuned to your local radio, television or NOAA weather radio for further information and possible warnings.
  • Be prepared to take cover if necessary.


When a tornado warning is issued:

  • A tornado has been sighted or has been indicated by NWS Doppler radar.
  • Warnings are given to individual counties or cities and include the tornado‚Äôs location, direction and speed.
  • If you are in or near its path, seek shelter immediately.


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, move to a small, windowless interior room such as a closet, bathroom or interior hall on the lowest level of the building. Be sure to use the stairs to reach the lowest level, not an elevator. Protect your body from flying debris with a heavy blanket or pillows.

Take precautions if you can not get to a substantial buildings. If you are in:

  • Open buildings (shopping malls, gymnasiums or civic centers): Try to get into the restroom or an interior hallway. If there is no time to go anywhere else, seek shelter right where you are. Try to get up against something that will support or deflect falling debris. Protect your head by covering it with your arms.
  • Automobiles: Get out of your vehicle and try to find shelter inside a sturdy building. A culvert or ditch can provide shelter if a substantial building is not nearby-- lie down flat and cover your head with your hands. Do not take shelter under a highway overpass or bridge, because debris could get blown under them or the structures themselves could be destroyed.
  • Outdoors: Try to find shelter immediately in the nearest substantial building. If no buildings are close, lie down flat in a ditch or depression and cover your head with your hands.
  • Mobile homes: Do not stay in mobile homes. You should leave immediately and seek shelter inside a nearby sturdy building or lie down in a ditch away from your home, covering your head with your hands. Mobile homes are extremely unsafe during tornadoes.