Expect Sirens, Emergency Warning Messages During Statewide Tornado Drill Tuesday

Federal, state and county emergency officials urge West Virginia families, businesses, hospitals, nursing homes, schools and government agencies to use the test alert to simulate what actions would be taken in the event of a real tornado emergency, and to update emergency plans as needed.

by Rick Steelhammer, The Charleston Gazette, W.Va. / March 17, 2019

(TNS) - Across West Virginia at about 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, sirens will blare, weather alert radios will activate and test emergency broadcast messages will interrupt television and radio programming as a statewide tornado test alert begins.

Federal, state and county emergency officials urge West Virginia families, businesses, hospitals, nursing homes, schools and government agencies to use the test alert to simulate what actions would be taken in the event of a real tornado emergency, and to update emergency plans as needed.

“Testing your emergency plan, whether with family members or co-workers, helps ensure we will all be ready for the next severe weather event in the state,” said Michael Todorovich, director of the West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

“This is the time to work through your emergency plans and to ensure you know what to do if an actual tornado occurs in Kanawha County,” said Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper.

In the event of a real tornado warning, families are advised to gather in the basements of their homes, or in small, interior rooms with no windows on the home’s lowest level, until the warning ends. If traveling in vehicles when a tornado warning is issued, avoid parking below overpasses or bridges and choose a low, flat site to wait out the warning.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Shinnston Tornado, West Virginia’s deadliest. The June 23, 1944 twister swept through Harrison, Marion, Barbour and Randolph counties as well as parts of Ohio, Pennsylvania and Maryland, killing a total of 153 people and demolishing 404 homes. All but 50 of those who died in the tornado were West Virginians, most of them from Shinnston and neighboring communities in Harrison County.

“The anniversary of the Shinnston Tornado 75 years ago serves as a warning to heighten our preparedness,” Todorovich said.

According to the Tornado History Project, 148 tornadoes have been documented in West Virginia between 1950 and 2017. On average, 2.4 twisters strike the state annually.

Reach Rick Steelhammer at

rsteelhammer@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-5169 or follow

@rsteelhammer on Twitter.

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©2019 The Charleston Gazette (Charleston, W.Va.)

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