February 24, 2021

Severe Weather Preparedness Week and Statewide Tornado Drill emphasize readiness to protect Missourians from severe weather

March 1-5 awareness campaign calls for preparing and planning for tornadoes, severe storms, lightning and flooding

An EF-3 tornado in North Carolina last week killed three people, injured 10 and damaged dozens of houses, reminding Americans on the approaching severe storm season.

To prepare, from March 1 to 5, the National Weather ServiceState Emergency Management Agency and local emergency managers are encouraging Missourians to learn more about severe weather and how to protect themselves during Missouri Severe Weather Preparedness Week. Missouri’s annual Statewide Tornado Drill will be held on Tuesday, March 2 at 10 a.m. (Some Missouri communities may choose to conduct the drill on a different day due to conflicting local events.) 

“As the 10-year anniversary of the May 22, 2011 Joplin tornado approaches and we reflect upon more than 160 lives lost, and the years of recovery efforts, we’re reminded of the tremendous importance of preparing for severe weather no matter where we are,” State Emergency Management Agency Director Jim Remillard said. “This includes having an emergency plan in place and putting it into action before severe weather occurs in your area.” 

The EF-5 tornado that struck Joplin, Mo. at 5:41 p.m. on Sunday, May 22, 2011 is considered the deadliest single tornado in the U.S. since official records began in 1950. The Joplin tornado and an outbreak of other deadly tornadoes in 2011 have led to significant changes. In the aftermath, the National Weather Service has implemented new impact-based severe weather warnings to better communicate the severity of approaching storms; schools have reconsidered where to shelter students during storms; and since 2012, Americans have been able to utilize Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) on their mobile phones to automatically receive severe weather warnings along with other emergency information. 

At 10 a.m. on March 2, outdoor warning sirens and weather alert radios across the state will sound, signaling the beginning of the statewide tornado drill and indicating that Missourians should practice taking shelter. 

If severe weather is in the forecast for March 2, the tornado drill will be moved to Thursday, March 4 at 10 a.m.

NWS provides safety tips and educational information about tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, flash flooding, lightning and the importance of NOAA Weather Radios on its Severe Weather Awareness Week page: Each day during the week focuses on a different safety message: Monday, March 1, Have a Plan/Receive Weather Information Day; Tuesday, March 2, Tornado Safety Day; Wednesday, March 3, Lightning Safety Day; Thursday, March 4, Hail/Wind Safety Day; and Friday, March 5, Flood Safety Day.


  • tornado watch means tornadoes are possible in the area therefore it’s important to be ready to act quickly if it becomes necessary. Tornadoes can form during thunderstorms.
  • tornado warning means seek shelter immediately because a tornado has been sighted or indicated by radar causing imminent danger to life and property. 
  • The safest shelter location is an interior room without windows on the lowest floor.
  • 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. Their under-the-girder-type construction can cause a dangerous wind tunnel effect. 
  • If you are driving, 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, stay in your car with your seatbelt on. Protect yourself from flying debris by placing your head in between your legs underneath the window line and covering it with your arms, a coat or a blanket.
  • Never drive into standing water. It can take less than six inches of fast-moving water to make a slow-moving car float. Rapidly rising water may engulf the vehicle and sweep it away.

More information can be found on Missouri's website, which includes detailed videos about how to take shelter from tornadoes in specific locations, how to avoid flash flooding and useful information about tornado sirens, and weather alert radios. Missourians are also encouraged to utilize Missouri’s Ready in 3 program to create a plan, prepare a kit, and listen for information regarding severe weather emergencies:

Please contact your local NWS office for interviews about Severe Weather Preparedness Week or for additional information:

St. Louis: (636) 441-8467
Kansas City: (816) 540-6021
Springfield: (417) 869-4491
Paducah, Ky.: (270) 744-6440

Memphis, Tenn.: (901) 544-0401

Davenport, Iowa: (563) 388-0672


For more information, call 573-751-6294 or e-mail