A tornado is one of nature’s most violent storms. Destructive tornadoes can move through our area very quickly. Regardless of where you live, everyone needs to learn what to do in case of a tornado. It pays to know how to keep yourself and your family safe. The general rule for tornado safety is “go low and get low,” meaning go to the lowest level of the structure away from windows and crouch in a low position with your head covered.
Tornado Watches and Warnings
When severe thunderstorms threaten, weather experts advise people to pay close attention to weather forecasts, watches, and warnings. Environmental clues that may indicate an approaching tornado include a dark, often greenish sky, large hail, and a loud roar similar to a freight train. To alert the public about possible tornadoes, the National Weather Service issues watches and warnings.
A tornado watch means that weather conditions are favorable for the development of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes. If a watch is broadcast, stay tuned for further information, possible warnings, and be prepared to take cover.
A tornado warning means a tornado has actually been sighted or is indicated by radar. Warnings are issued for individual counties and include the tornado’s location, direction, and speed.
- Do not attempt to look for the tornado
- If you are in or near its path, seek shelter immediately
Below are some safety tips to follow when there is a tornado in your area.
- Avoid windows. Opening windows to equalize the pressure is ineffective in reducing damage. Don’t worry about the windows; worry about finding shelter and protecting yourself.
- If you are caught in an open building such as a shopping mall, gymnasium, or civic center, get into the restroom if possible. If unable to do so, go to an interior hallway away from windows and protect yourself from flying debris.
- If you are caught outside when a tornado strikes, try to find shelter immediately in the nearest substantial building. If buildings are not close, take cover by lying down flat in a ditch or depression. Never attempt to seek shelter under an overpass.
- If you are in your vehicle, get out of the vehicle and seek shelter in a sturdy building. If shelter is not immediately available, lay flat in a ditch or depression and protect yourself from flying debris.
- Know the names of the counties, cities, and towns near you, especially those to the west and south. It will be easier to track the tornado’s direction if you are familiar with the geography of your area.
- Mobile homes are extremely unsafe during tornadoes. Seek shelter inside a sturdy building or lay down flat in a ditch away from your home, covering your head with your hands.
- The best shelter from a tornado is a basement. If you do not have a basement, go to an interior room without windows on the lowest level of your home. Protect your body from flying debris with a heavy blanket or sleeping bag.
- Prepare an Emergency Supply Kit
- Make a Plan
- Prepare for Power Outages
- Ready NOVA - Online Planning Tools
- Loudoun County Road Maintenance Map
- VDOT Snow Plow Tracker
- Loudoun Traffic Incidents Map
- Road Conditions / Closures (511 Virginia)
- Road Conditions / Closures Phone Line: 511
- Report Road Closure: 800-367-7623
Power Lines / Outages
- Dominion Virginia Power
- Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative (NOVEC)
- Washington Gas
- Columbia Gas
TTY Phone: 800-231-3238
Public Safety Phone Numbers
- For Emergencies: 911
- Non-Emergency Phone: 703-777-1021