FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 25, 2011


Missouri's annual state tornado drill will be held March 8

Severe Weather Awareness Week in Missouri is March 7-11

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 National Weather Service, the State Emergency Management Agency and local emergency management offices will conduct the 37th annual state tornado drill on Tuesday, March 8 at 1:30 p.m., as part of Missouri Severe Weather Awareness Week, which runs from March 7-11. If Missouri is experiencing statewide severe weather conditions, the drill will be moved to Thursday, March 10 at 1:30 p.m.
"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.
Remember:

·    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 – St. Louis, Missouri Severe Weather Awareness Week: http://www.crh.noaa.gov/lsx/?n=severeweek (Includes an overview, statistics and details about  each day of Severe Weather Awareness Week: Monday, Preparedness Day; Tuesday, Tornado Safety Day; Wednesday, Flash Flood Safety Day; Thursday, Severe Thunderstorm Day; Friday, NOAA Weather Radio Day.)
·          NWS – St. Louis, Spring Weather Campaign: http://www.crh.noaa.gov/lsx/?n=preparedness
·          NWS – Springfield, Spring Weather Campaign features coloring books, pamphlets and videos: http://www.crh.noaa.gov/sgf/?n=floodawarenessweek
·          NWS – Springfield, Driver safety for flash flood and low water crossing information: http://www.crh.noaa.gov/sgf/?n=ffrap_index  and http://www.crh.noaa.gov/sgf/?n=ffrap_lwc
·          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/   

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For more information, call 573-751-5432 or e-mail mike.o'connell@dps.mo.gov