National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Statewide Tornado Drill HAS BEEN CANCELLED


The Statewide Tornado Drill scheduled for March 17, 2020 in Virginia has been Cancelled.  As a result of the State of Emergency declared for the coronavirus response, The National Weather Service and the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) have cancelled the Virginia Statewide Tornado Drill.  Even without the Tornado Drill, Virginia Residents should still take a few moments to learn about severe weather safety and develop a safety plan, so when severe thunderstorms and tornadoes inevitably strike our state and the likelihood of injury and fatalities caused by severe weather could be minimized.



The keys to severe weather safety

Know Your Risk

The first step to becoming weather-ready is to understand the type of hazarous weather that can affect where you live and work, and how the weather could impact you and your family.  Check the weather forecasts regulary and visit to learn more about becoming prepared.

Prepare and Take Action

Take the first step to make sure that you and your family are prepared for severe weather.  This includes building an emergency kit, filling out a family safety and communication plan, keeping important papers in a safe place, and having multiple sources for weather alerts.

Be an Example

Once you have taken action to prepare, get involved, and share your story with your family and friends.  Studies show that many people use social media in the event of a disaster to let relatives and friends know that they are safe.  This is an important trend because people are most likely to take preparedness steps if they observe the preparations taken by others.


It is important to know how to stay safe in all kinds of severe weather including tornadoes, large hail, lightning, flash flooding, and damaging straight-line winds. Click on an image below to read read more about each individual threat. 

Tornado Safety Large hail safety Lightning safety Flash flood safety wind damage safety


Do you know what the difference is between a Tornado Watch and a Tornado Warning?

Click any one of the images below to find out more about the differences.

watch Warning


Statewide Tornado Drill Information

Virginia’s annual statewide tornado drill for 2020 will take place on Tuesday, March 17, at 9:45 AM EST.  Every school, business, work place, and family across the state is strongly encouraged to participate in the statewide tornado drill.

Here are some key points to remember about the drill:

  • The drill will be broadcast on NOAA Weather Radio and the Emergency Alert System via the Required Monthly Test (RMT).  There WILL NOT be an actual Tornado Warning issued.
  • Most NOAA Weather Radio receivers (including the Midland WR-100 that many schools have) DO NOT sound an audible alert for the RMT product, but instead, may have a blinking light on the display to indicate that an RMT was received.  As such, when the RMT for the statewide tornado drill is initiated at 9:45 AM on Tuesday, March 17, 2020, there's a good chance that your NOAA Weather Radio will not automatically sound an alarm. 
  • Since your NOAA Weather Radio may not sound an alarm at the time the RMT is issued, you will want to do one of the following: turn your radio on to listen to the broadcast by 9:40 am and when you hear the alert, simply start your tornado drill at 9:45 AM. If you do not have a NOAA Weather Radio simply start your drill and enact your safety plan at 9:45 AM.
  • There will be no followup statements issued by the NWS to mark the end of the statewide tornado drill.   It will simply be over when your group, school, business, organization, or family feel that you have adequately practiced your tornado shelter procedures.
  • If there is actual severe weather occurring on the morning of March 17, 2020, the statewide tornado drill will be postponed.  The alternate date for the drill is Wednesday, March 18, 2020 at 9:45 AM EST.



Severe Weather Safety Resources





Other useful information


Please use these links for more information about Virginia's Severe Weather.