With temperatures in the 60s and 70s over much of this winter, you can easily find yourself getting a little relaxed, but the National Weather Service has confirmed seven tornado touch downs in southern Ohio on March 1. So make no mistake about it – winter is not done with us yet.
In a coordinated effort with the Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness (OCSWA), Governor John R. Kasich is proclaiming March 19-25 as Severe Weather Awareness Week and is encouraging all Ohioans to learn what to do to protect themselves from spring and summer weather hazards and home emergencies.
As part of Severe Weather Awareness Week the state of Ohio will participate in a statewide tornado drill and test its Emergency Alert System (EAS) on Wednesday, March 22 at 9:50 a.m. During that time, Ohio counties will sound and test their outdoor warning sirens. Schools, businesses and households are encouraged to practice their tornado drills and emergency plans.
“The NWS will send out a Test Tornado Warning Message at 9:50 AM on March 22nd as part of Severe Weather Awareness Week in Ohio,” Scioto County Emergency Management Agency Director Kim Carver told the Daily Times. “The Emergency Alert System (EAS) will set off NOAA Weather Radios and most schools are scheduled to do a Tornado Safety Drill at that time.”
According to Ohio Fire Code 409.2, schools must conduct tornado drills at least once a month whenever in session during the tornado season. Ohio’s “tornado season” is April 1 – July 30. Schools that participate in the statewide drill in March can usually credit that date as their required April tornado drill. Administrators can verify that with their local fire chiefs.
What can Ohioans do during Severe Weather Awareness Week?
Know Ohio’s Weather Hazards – Know the different types of weather hazards that typically occur during the spring and summer. Know how severe weather could impact your home, your job, your community. Ohio’s springtime hazards include tornadoes, thunderstorms, floods, and even snowstorms through early spring. Visit the OCSWA website: www.weathersafety.ohio.gov to view current weather in Ohio, and to review severe weather safety and preparedness information.
Some of the things you should know is the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning. A tornado watch means conditions are favorable for the development of tornadoes. A tornado warning is issued when a tornado is imminent or occurring. If a tornado warning is issued for your area, do not stop to take photos or shoot video. Seek safe shelter immediately.
During tornado drills or actual tornado warnings, remember to DUCK!
D – Go DOWN to the lowest level, stay away from windows
U – Get UNDER something (such as a basement staircase or heavy table or desk)
C – COVER your head
K – KEEP in shelter until the storm has passed
“This is an annual observance to remind the public and business, industry and schools and other government agencies of the precautions that should be taken when severe weather occurs, specifically for this a tornado safety drill,” Carver said. “It is a time to review the steps that should be taken to seek shelter in a tornado, and to review the safety precautions when a flash flood warning or severe thunderstorm warning is issued as well.”
Carver said people get busy and don’t always think about the ways to be safe in severe weather. The purpose of the Severe Weather Awareness week is to remind everyone of things they should do to keep safe when severe weather occurs.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.
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