Statewide Tornado Drill: Wednesday, March 20, 2019 at 9:50 a.m.
Never mind the seasons. In Ohio, it is best to be prepared for all weather hazards almost all year round. The last two months seemed a constant up-and-down; back-and-forth, with weather conditions so extreme that on January 8, an EF1 tornado touched down in Trumbull County. Ohio’s winter continued with dangerously low wind chill temps, snowstorms, heavy rain, river flooding, and another tornado. This time, it was an EF0 in Clark County on February 7.
“As we have seen, especially this winter, we need to know the weather hazards that can impact our state and how to prepare and protect ourselves from severe weather,” said Ohio Emergency Management Agency Executive Director Sima Merick. “Ohio’s Severe Weather Awareness Week is an ideal time to learn about severe weather preparedness, and get ready.”
“Every minute counts in a disaster. Plan now so you’re prepared,” said Merick. “Make emergency plans for the different hazards that can impact your household. Practice tornado and fire drills. Make emergency supply kits for your home or for your car, in case you need to evacuate. Additionally, consider purchasing flood insurance.”
As part of Severe Weather Awareness Week, as coordinated by OCSWA, the state of Ohio will participate in a statewide tornado drill and test its Emergency Alert System on Wednesday, March 20 at 9:50 a.m. During this time, Ohio counties will sound and test their outdoor warning sirens. Schools, businesses and households are encouraged to practice their tornado drills and emergency plans.
Tornadoes develop from severe thunderstorms. They are usually preceded by very heavy rain and/or large hail. A thunderstorm accompanied by hail indicates that the storm has large amounts of energy and may be severe. In general, the larger the hailstones, the more potential there is for damaging winds and/or tornadoes.
The most violent tornadoes are capable of tremendous destruction with wind speeds of 250 mph or more. Damage paths have exceeded the width of one mile and 50 miles long. Tornadoes generally move from southwest to northeast, but have also been recorded traveling in any direction. The forward speed of a tornado varies from 30 mph to 70 mph.
Even though Ohio had tornadoes in November of 2002 and 2003, the peak tornado season for Ohio is generally April through July. Tornadoes usually occur between 2 p.m. and 10 p.m., but have been known to occur at any hour.
Tornado Safety Tips
Whether practicing in a tornado drill or sheltering during a warning, the Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness encourages Ohioans to DUCK!
D – Go DOWN to the lowest level
U – Get UNDER something
C – COVER your head
K – KEEP in shelter until the storm has passed
What you need to know about Tornadoes
- Take responsibility for your safety and be prepared before a watch or warning is issued. Meet with household members to develop a disaster plan to respond to tornado watches and warnings. Conduct regular tornado drills. When a tornado watch is issued, review your plan – don’t wait for the watch to become a warning. Learn how to turn off the water, gas and electricity at the main switches.
- Despite Doppler radar, tornadoes can sometimes occur without any warning, allowing very little time to act. It is important to know the basics of tornado safety. Know the difference between tornado watches and tornado warnings.
- Tune in to one of the following for weather information: NOAA Weather Radio, local/cable television (Ohio News Network or the Weather Channel), or local radio station.
- NOAA Weather Radio has available an alerting tool for people who are deaf or have hearing impairments. Some weather radio receivers can be connected to an existing home security system, much the same as a doorbell, smoke detector or other sensor.
- The safest place to be during a tornado is a basement. If the building has no basement or cellar, go to a small room (a bathroom or closet) on the lowest level of the structure, away from windows and as close to the center of the building as possible.
- Be aware of emergency shelter plans in stores, offices and schools. If no specific shelter has been identified, move to the building’s lowest level. Try to avoid areas with large glass windows, large rooms and wide-span roofs such as auditoriums, cafeterias, large hallways or shopping malls.
- If you’re outside or in mobile home, find shelter immediately by going to the lowest level of a nearby sturdy building. Sturdy buildings are the safest structures to be in when tornadoes threaten. Winds from tornadoes can blow large objects, including cars and mobile homes, hundreds of feet away.
- If you cannot quickly get to a shelter, get into your vehicle, buckle your seatbelt and try to drive to the nearest sturdy shelter.
- If you experience flying debris while driving, pull over and park. Choose to either stay in your vehicle, stay buckled up, duck down below the windows and cover your head with your hands, or find a depression or ditch, exit your vehicle and use your arms and hands to protect your head. Never seek shelter under highway overpasses and bridges.