It’s ‘Spring Severe Weather Preparedness Week,’ statewide tornado drill planned for Wednesday

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Governor Jim Justice has declared March 20 through 24 Spring Severe Weather Awareness Week. A statewide tornado drill will be held Wednesday, March 22 at 11 a.m.

MetroNews Accuweather Meteorologist Brian Thompson said it’s time to get a plan in place for when severe weather strikes. The plan should also include planning for food, water, medicine, and rally points or alternate means of communication if you become separated from family members.

Thompson urges school officials, businesses, and public organizations to develop some kind of response plan as well.

“You’re looking for areas where you can go and be safe from a potential tornado,” Thompson said. “The best places to go if you’re at your house are a basement, an interior room away from windows and preferably on the lowest floor you can get to.”

If you’re driving or outside, Thompson suggests residents should be “weather ready” when conditions have the potential to be threatening. As a last resort, Thompson said the best protection is to find a low-lying area or place to lay down as low as possible during threatening weather.

“Those are the days you really want to be in tune with what’s going on with the weather,” Thompson said. “Knowing that there’s the potential for severe weather, keep an eye to the sky if it starts getting very dark, and you may want to start thinking about heading toward an area where you can find a building.”

Weather data indicates West Virginia will average two tornadoes each year, and June is the most likely month of the severe weather season to see one hit. On Monday, June 24, 2019, a line of storms produced two tornadoes in Charleston that dissipated near the Kanawha River but went on to produce a microburst in the Harrison County community of Wallace.

“We don’t typically see a lot around here, but it is something we still have to keep in mind, basically from now through the middle of the summer,” Thompson said. “That’s probably our best chance to see severe weather.”

Thompson said this is also the best opportunity to know the difference between terms used in the weather warning system. Knowing the difference between a “warning” and a “watch” is an important component of any safety plan.

“It’s coming. That’s basically what a tornado warning means,” Thompson said. “A Tornado Watch is that the ingredients are there, and then the warning is the next step up.”