Virginia Tech will participate in the Commonwealth of Virginia's statewide tornado drill scheduled for Tuesday, March 11 at 9:45 a.m.

The Office of Emergency Management encourages the Virginia Tech community to organize their own drill and practice the actions required in the event of a tornado.

“Knowing what to do when a tornado warning is issued for your area can save your life,” said Michael J. Mulahre, director of the Office of Emergency Management.  “There have been more than 60 tornadoes in Virginia during the last three years. They have hit every region of the commonwealth, including the mountains. They have damaged homes, business, and even schools.”

The Virginia Department of Emergency Management recommends designating one or more people in your department or organization to coordinate the drill. Before the start of the drill, all participants should be aware that a tornado drill is taking place and understand what is expected of them. Each participant should take some time to consider the safest locations in areas and buildings they frequent often. 

At 9:45 a.m., the drill coordinators should announce the start of the drill to all participants. At this time, participants should act as they would if a real tornado touched down nearby. The drill coordinator will announce when there is an “all clear” and the drill is over. 

After the drill, the coordinator and participants should reflect on the effectiveness of their current tornado procedures and determine if any changes need to be incorporated. For information on conducting your own drill, see the Virginia Department of Emergency Management’s online guidance on drill participation or call the Virginia Tech Office of Emergency Management at 540-231-2438.

Things to know

  • 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.

Sheltering-in-place during a tornado

When it is necessary to shelter-in-place, you will be safest by moving inside to a building space that protects you from the danger. Do not lock doors behind you as others may also need to shelter-in-place.

Listen to or watch your local radio or television station for weather reports or listen to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather radio for more detailed information on when weather conditions are favorable for the formation of tornadoes. Follow these recommendations if there is a tornado warning for your area:

  • If you hear about a tornado in your area, do not wait until you see it to take cover.
  • Seek indoor shelter in the lowest level possible, in an interior room or hallway away from windows and doors.
  • Crouch near the floor or under heavy, well supported objects. Cover your head.
  • Avoid windows, corridors with windows, or large free-standing expanses (such as auditoriums and cafeterias). Do not use elevators during a tornado warning.
  • If you are caught outside with no shelter, lie flat in a ditch or depression and cover your head.
  • Watch out for flying debris. Flying debris from tornadoes causes most fatalities and injuries.

For more information on what to do before, during, and after a tornado, visit the Office of Emergency Management's tornado preparedness guide.

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.

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