Be Prepared: Participate in the 2017 Virginia Tornado Drill

Page archived as of March 24, 2017

Be Prepared: Participate in the 2017 Virginia Tornado Drill

For Immediate Release: March 16, 2017

The City of Alexandria invites the public to participate in the 2017 Statewide Tornado Drill, scheduled for Tuesday, March 21, at 9:45 a.m.  At that time, the National Weather Service will send a test tornado warning over NOAA weather radios. This test signal will sound a tone alert, show a text message or flash to indicate a message, simulating what people would hear or see during an actual tornado warning. Local radio stations, TV stations and cable outlets will also broadcast the test message via the Emergency Alert System.

The City will also send an Alexandria eNews alert notification for a test tornado warning. This message will prompt you to take the necessary actions you would use during an actual tornado.  (If actual severe weather threatens Virginia on March 21, the drill will be rescheduled for Wednesday, March 22, at 9:45 a.m.).

The Statewide Tornado Drill, sponsored by the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, is a yearly opportunity to prepare Virginians for tornado emergencies and to test public warning systems.  

Residents and businesses are encouraged to be ready for tornadoes and other spring storms by registering to participate in the drill, going over their emergency preparedness plans, and reviewing the following tornado preparedness information. 

Tornado Preparedness Information and Tips

Know the difference between a Tornado Watch and a Tornado Warning:

  • Tornado Watch: Be Prepared! Tornadoes are possible in and near the watch area. Review and discuss your emergency plans, check supplies, and your safe room. You will need to move quickly if a warning is issued or you suspect a tornado is approaching.

  • Tornado Warning: Take Action! A tornado has been sighted or indicated by radar. There is imminent danger to life and property.  

If a Tornado WARNING is announced, take the following actions.

If you are in a building

  • Go into a windowless interior room, closet or hallway on the lowest floor possible.

  • Stay away from corners, windows, doors, and outside walls. Go to the center of the room.

  • If you are in a high-rise building, you may not have time to get to the lowest floor. Pick a place in a hallway in the center of the building  and put your arms and hands over your head.

  • If you use a motorized scooter or wheelchair, find a location in a hallway in the center of the building and put your arms and hands over your head for protection.

  • If there is no time to find a safe location, get under a table or desk and put your arms and hands over your head.

If you are outdoors or in a car

  • Get out of your vehicle and try to find shelter inside a sturdy building.

  • Do not get under a bridge or overpass. You are safer in a low, flat location.

  • If you are caught up in high winds with flying debris, stay in your vehicle, leave your seatbelt on, and put your head down below the windshield with your hands over your head.

  • Find a culvert or ditch nearby, lie down flat and cover your head with your hands.

For more information about the Statewide Tornado Drill and to register, visit the Virginia Department of Emergency Management page. For more information about emergency preparedness, visit For information about tornadoes, visit To receive emergency notifications by text or email, subscribe to the City’s free Alexandria eNews service at

For media inquiries, contact Andrea Blackford, Senior Communications Officer, at or 703.746.3959.

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This news release is available at