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JEFFERSON CITY—Due to the weather forecast calling for precipitation on Tuesday, March 8, the National Weather Service postponed the scheduled annual statewide tornado drill. The new date for the drill will be Thursday, March 10 at 1:30 p.m. The weather forecast calls for sunshine on Thursday. The change to Thursday is for the entire state of Missouri.
The 37th annual statewide tornado drill is part of Missouri 2011 Severe Weather Awareness week, which runs from today through Friday, March 11.
Missouri’s 2011 Severe Weather Awareness Week has one goal: to save lives, as the threat for severe weather across the state transitions from snow and ice to severe thunderstorms and flooding.
“The state tornado drill is important because it reminds all of us to plan for weather emergencies that are a common threat across Missouri,” said State Emergency Management Agency Director Paul D. Parmenter. “The drill provides a designated time for schools, businesses and others to practice taking shelter when a tornado warning is issued.”
According to the National Weather Service, Missouri experienced 65 tornadoes in 2010, including multiple tornadoes on Dec. 31, which were responsible for five deaths and 13 injuries. Four of the five people killed were in mobile homes when the tornadoes struck.
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 a building. Other safe locations for businesses and schools include basements, hallways, underneath staircases and designated tornado safe rooms. The drill is complete once everyone is accounted for in the designated shelters.
•Tornado Watch means tornadoes are possible. Remain alert for approaching storms. Watch the sky and stay tuned to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information.
•Tornado Warning means a tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. Take 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.
•If you are driving, you should stop and take shelter in a nearby building.
•Overpasses are not safe. An overpass’ under-the-girder-type construction can cause a dangerous wind tunnel effect. In some cases bridges have collapsed, killing and injuring those who are seeking shelter underneath them.
•If you are driving in a rural area and spot a tornado, driving away from the tornado’s path may be the safest option if the tornado is far away. If the tornado is bearing down on you, stop your vehicle off the traveled section of the roadway and seek a sturdy shelter or lie flat in a ditch or other low spot. If you are outside, remember to cover your head with your arms, a coat or blanket to protect yourself from flying debris. Be prepared to move quickly in case the ditch fills with water. Also, remember that stopping near the roadway increases the chance of being struck by other motorists—so be alert and exercise caution.
•Never drive into standing water. It can take less than six inches of fast moving water to sweep a vehicle into a river or creek. If your vehicle does become stuck in rising water, get out quickly and move to higher ground. Always heed signs that warn of flash flooding.
Helpful Web sites:
––NWS – Springfield, Spring Weather Campaign features coloring books, pamphlets and videos: http://www.crh.noaa.gov/sgf/?n=floodawarenessweek
––Missouri Department of Transportation Travelers Map: http://www.modot.mo.gov/
––Missouri’s Ready In 3 program: http://www.dhss.mo.gov/Ready_in_3/
––FEMA’s Animals in Emergencies for Pet Owners information: http://www.fema.gov/individual/animals.shtm
Photographs of damage resulting from the Dec. 31, 2010 tornadoes and severe weather are available at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/missouridps/sets/72157625606762529/