March is Severe Spring Weather Preparedness Month in Missouri as the weather transitions from snow to rain, tornadoes and flooding.
The National Weather Service, the State Emergency Management Agency and local emergency management offices will conduct the 36th annual state tornado drill at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 9. The weather service will initiate the drill. If Missouri is experiencing statewide severe weather conditions, the drill will be moved to Thursday, March 11.
“The state tornado drill reminds citizens, schools and businesses to practice taking shelter when a tornado warning is issued. Last May, 38 Missouri counties, including Texas, were included in a federal disaster declaration for severe weather and tornadoes. Those storms were responsible for seven fatalities and 21 serious injuries,” said Paul D. Parmenter, state emergency management agency director .
Parmenter noted that a May 2008 tornado was responsible for 16 fatalities and more than 200 injuries in Newton, Jasper and Barry counties. An April 2006 tornado destroyed and heavily damaged structures in Caruthersville, Braggadocio and Deering in Pemiscot County.
The entire drill can be completed in 15 minutes. Once Missourians hear broadcast drill messages or outdoor warning sirens, they should practice seeking shelter. The safest shelter location is an interior room without windows in the lowest level of the building. Other school or business safe locations are basements, hallways, under staircases and designated tornado safe rooms. Once everyone is accounted for, the drill is over.
The National Weather Service reminds citizens:
–Tornado watch means watch the sky. A tornado may form during a thunderstorm.
–Tornado warning means seek shelter immediately.
–An interior room without windows on the lowest floor is the safest shelter location.
–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.
–Overpasses are not safe. An overpass’ under-the-girder-type construction can cause a dangerous wind tunnel effect.
–If you are driving, you should stop and take shelter in a nearby building.
–If you are driving in a rural area, seek shelter in a roadside ditch. Protect yourself from flying debris by covering your head with your arms, a coat or a blanket. Be prepared to move quickly in case the ditch fills with water
–Never drive into standing water. It can take less than six inches of fast moving water to make a slow moving car float. Once floating, a vehicle can overturn and sink.