Sirens sound today in statewide tornado drill

Do you have an emergency plan?

Emergency sirens and alerts across Ohio went off at 9:50 a.m. today as a reminder to prepare for one of nature’s most fearsome storms.

Peak tornado season in Ohio is typically from April to July, but tornadoes can spin up at any time.

Tornadoes touched down Feb. 27 northwest of Middletown in Madison Twp. in Butler County and also near New Carlisle in Clark County. Both were classified as an EF1 on the Enhanced Fujita scale, with wind speeds of 85-110 mph.

While neither caused loss of life, the National Weather Service says an average of 800 tornadoes a year are reported nationwide, resulting in 80 deaths and 1,500 injuries. This illustrates the need to know where to quickly find shelter during a storm.

“Ohio’s weather can often be unpredictable, especially in the spring when temperatures fluctuate between warm and cold, which can be a recipe for severe weather, or even tornadoes,” said Sima Merick, Ohio Emergency Management Agency executive director. “We encourage all Ohioans to make or review an existing emergency plan and be prepared.”

The tornado drill today comes during the state’s Severe Weather Awareness Week, which is two weeks away from the 49th anniversary of the April 3, 1974, tornado in Xenia that killed 33 people and injured more than 1,300. The F5 tornado — the most intense on the scale with wind speeds greater than 200 mph — was part of a Super Outbreak with multiple tornadoes spawned from the same storm system.

All schools, local government offices, health care facilities, businesses and residents are encouraged to participate by reviewing and running through an action plan of what to do and where to go during severe weather. For counties, this will include sounding outdoor warning sirens and mass notification systems, according to the state EMA.

Safety & Preparedness Tips

Know the Terms:

Tornado Watch - Be Prepared: When conditions are favorable for the development of tornadoes. Be ready to move to a place of safety if the watch is upgraded to a warning or if threatening weather approaches.

Tornado Warning - Take Action: When a tornado is imminent or has been sighted. Warnings indicate impending danger to life and property. Seek safe shelter immediately, preferably in a basement, or in an interior room without windows such as a closet, hallway or bathroom.

Prepare for Severe Weather and Home Emergencies: Build a kit and make a plan. This includes having a severe weather kit for home and vehicle and creating an emergency plan/or updating your existing plan

Outdoor Warning Sirens: Many Ohio counties have outdoor warning sirens that sound when severe weather is imminent. Outdoor warning sirens are designed to be heard outdoors.

Alerts and Notifications: Getting weather and emergency information from trusted sources is important. Have multiple means of receiving communications and always get your information from reliable sources such as the National Weather Service, local broadcast radio and television stations, and phone apps from trusted agencies. Other great sources for communications are the Emergency Alert System (EAS) which are messages sent over television and radio channels, Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) which are free notifications delivered to mobile devices as part of a public safety system, and a NOAA All-Hazards Weather Radio.

Source: Ohio EMA

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