On Dec. 10, 2021, severe storms and six confirmed tornadoes in Missouri killed two people and destroyed or damaged hundreds of homes and buildings, as well as 20 large transmission towers and lines that move power between Missouri and Arkansas. The storm system serves as another reminder that deadly tornadoes can strike any time of year.
To prepare, from March 7 to 11, the National Weather Service, State Emergency Management Agency, and local emergency managers encourage Missourians to learn more about severe weather and how to protect themselves during Missouri Severe Weather Preparedness Week. Missouri’s annual Statewide Tornado Drill will also be held on Tuesday, March 8 at 10 a.m. (Some Missouri communities may choose to conduct the drill on a different day due to conflicting local events.)
“Although many Missourians associate severe weather with the spring and summer months, there is no tornado season,” State Emergency Management Agency Director Jim Remillard said. “Dangerous and sometimes deadly tornadoes, thunderstorms, and flooding can happen year-round. That’s why it’s incredibly important to have an emergency plan in place and talk to your family about when to take action before severe weather strikes your area.”
At 10:00 a.m. on the day of the tornado drill, NOAA Weather Radios set to receive the Routine Weekly Tests will alert listeners that the tornado drill has begun. Outdoor warning sirens will also sound across participating Missouri communities. At that time, participants should practice taking cover in their designated shelter.
Schools, businesses, and families are all encouraged to participate in the statewide tornado drill. Educators are encouraged to use the tornado drill as an opportunity to include tornado facts, meteorological information, and safety tips into their lesson plans.
NWS provides safety tips and educational information about tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, flash flooding, lightning, and the importance of NOAA Weather Radios on its Severe Weather Awareness Week page. Each day during the week focuses on a different safety message:
- Monday, March 1 – Receive Weather Information Day
- Tuesday, March 2 – Tornado Safety Day
- Wednesday, March 3 – Lightning Safety Day
- Thursday, March 4 – Hail/Wind Safety Day
- Friday, March 5 – Flood Safety Day
- Follow local forecasts anytime severe weather is anticipated. Have multiple ways to receive weather alerts, in case one fails or if severe weather strikes overnight.
- Create a family emergency plan to stay safe, and remember to include all pets when building an emergency kit and stocking up on supplies. Your family may not be together if a disaster strikes, so it is also important to know how to contact one another and reconnect if separated. Establish a family meeting place that’s familiar and easy to find.
- A tornado watch means tornadoes are possible in the area. Therefore, it’s important to be ready to act quickly if it becomes necessary. A tornado warning means seek shelter immediately because a tornado has been sighted or indicated by radar causing imminent danger to life and property.
- The safest shelter location for tornadoes is generally an interior room without windows on the lowest floor of a sturdy structure, preferably in the basement. Do not seek shelter in a cafeteria, gymnasium, or other large open room because the roof might collapse. Immediately leave a mobile home to seek shelter in a nearby building and never seek shelter under an overpass – the dangerous wind tunnel effect combined with flying debris can be deadly.
- If you hear thunder, lightning is close enough to strike you. Leave elevated areas and avoid isolated trees. Seek shelter immediately in an enclosed building or vehicle.
- The safest place to be when there are high winds or hail is indoors. Avoid driving to prevent injuries or vehicle damage. Consider all downed power lines as live.
- Never drive into standing water, even if it appears shallow. As little as six inches of fast-moving water can cause a car to lose control or float. Rapidly rising water may engulf the vehicle and sweep it away. Murky water can hide hazards including dangerous debris and road damage.
More information can be found on Missouri’s StormAware website, which includes detailed videos about how to take shelter from tornadoes in specific locations, how to avoid flash flooding dangers, and useful information about tornado sirens and weather alert radios. Missourians are also encouraged to utilize Missouri’s Ready in 3 Program to create a plan, prepare a kit, and listen for information regarding severe weather emergencies. More information is available at this link.