Citizens are urged to plan and prepare for how they will react to tornadoes, flash flooding and other severe weather during the annual Missouri Severe Weather Awareness Week.
The National Weather Service, the State Emergency Management Agency and Missouri’s local emergency management offices are teaming up for the March 3-7 event.
“It’s important to remember that tornadoes and dangerous flash flooding can develop rapidly and with little warning,” Gov. Jay Nixon said. “I encourage Missourians to talk at home, at work and at school about severe weather safety so that in times of real emergency, folks are prepared for whatever Mother Nature brings.”
The 40th annual statewide tornado drill will be at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday. If severe weather is forecasted, the drill will be moved to Thursday, March 6. Missouri outdoor warning sirens and weather alert radios will sound, indicating that Missourians should seek shelter during the statewide tornado drill. The safest shelter location is the basement or an interior room in the lowest level of a building. The drill is complete once everyone is accounted for in the designated shelters.
The stormaware.mo.gov website includes detailed videos showing how to react to severe weather and shelter in specific types of buildings — houses with and without basements, mobile homes, schools — and important information about tornado sirens and weather alert radios. The site also includes links to free severe weather texting services that can alert people across Missouri to upcoming severe weather.
Among the reminders authorities stressed are:
•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, drive away from the tornado to the closest building. If you cannot get away, 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.
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