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Greensburg, KS May 16, 2007 - The center of town resembles a bomb site twelve days after it was hit by an F5 tornado. Cleanup and reconstruction will take years. Photo by Greg Henshall / FEMA

Photo by Courtesy Photo

Quantico to hold tornado drill March 22

17 Mar 2016 | Valerie O’Berry Marine Corps Base Quantico

Tornadoes form quickly and with little warning. They can be devastating and destroy homes and buildings and throw heavy debris, even cars. So, it is important to know what to do in the event of a tornado and be prepared to act quickly.

With this information in mind, the Base is holding a tornado drill in conjunction with the commonwealth-wide drill that will be hel throughout Virginia March 22 at 9:45 a.m.

“As spring approaches, the base population should focus on the possibility of destructive weather, which includes severe thunderstorms, tornados, power outages, flooding, etc. Each command and individual should have a plan to minimize the impact of the effects of destructive weather.“ said Jason Terry of the Installation Protection Branch (formerly Mission Assurance).

During the drill, the Quantico Mass Notification System (QMNS) will be activiated, along with the base’s Giant Voice, warning of coming weather. In addition, one can expect to hear a siren and receive alerts via text or e-mail so people on base can become familiar with how they would receive destructive weather alerts and what these alerts would contain. On March 15, the Installation Protection Branch notified tenant commands of the requirement to provide their personnel notification of the upcoming destructive weather season and of the upcoming drill.

There are several signs that may indicate a tornado is near, according to the Virginia Emergency Management web site:
• Strong, persistent rotation in the base of a cloud;
• Whirling dust or debris on the ground under a cloud base – tornadoes sometimes have no visible funnel;
• Hail or heavy rain followed by dead calm or a fast, intense wind shift. Many tornadoes, especially in Virginia, are wrapped in heavy precipitation and can’t be seen;
• Loud, continuous roar or rumble, which doesn’t fade in a few seconds like thunder does
• If it’s night, look for small, bright, blue-green to white flashes at ground level (as opposed to silvery lightning up in the clouds). These lights are power lines being snapped by very strong wind, perhaps a tornado;
• Persistent lowering of the cloud base.

Although tornado season begins in March and lasts through July, this weather event has been known to occur well outside this time period, so knowing the difference between a tornado watch and warning is important. When a tornado watch is issued, this means a tornado is possible in your area. You should monitor local television and radio stations. A warning means a tornado has been sighted in your area or has been indicated by the National Weather Service Dopplar radar. When a warning is issued you should take cover by retreating to the lowest level in a house or building, an interior bathroom or crawlspace.

The Installation Protection Branch at MCBQ provides the following tips for what to do to prepare for and survive a tornado:
• Stay alert to pending weather conditions and be prepared to follow instructions provided by local radio and television stations as well as the Base’s Giant Voice and Quantico Mass Notification System (QMNS).
• Power outages after a destructive weather event may be widespread so personnel should have battery powered radios, flashlights and at least three days of supplies (non-perishable food, water and medications) on hand.
• Personnel should update their personal contact information on the QMNS found on the MCBQ website.
• When destructive weather is forecasted, personnel should stay tuned to local television, radio or NOAA weather radio for further information about possible watches and warnings. If it is safe, secure outside equipment, worksite materials, trash cans, dumpsters and patio furniture.
• In case a tornado warning is issued for the immediate area, personnel should take cover in a safe location at their home or workplace, such as a basement, crawlspace or interior bathroom or the lowest level of a substantial building.
• If you are in an open building such as a shopping mall, warehouse, or gym, go to a restroom or interior hallway. If there is no time, get up against structures that will support or deflect falling debris.
• If you are in a vehicle, exit the vehicle and shelter inside a sturdy builing. If you are caught by extreme winds or flying debris, park the car as quickly and safely as possible – out of traffic lanes. Stay in the car with the seat belt on. Put your head down below the windows and cover your head with your hands and a blanket, coat or other cushion. If you can safely get noticeably lower than the level of the roadway, leave your car and lie in that area, covering your head with your hands. Do not shelter under an overpass or bridge. You are safer in a low, flat location.
• If outdoors, find shelter immediately in the nearest substantial building. If no buildings are close, lie down flat in a ditch or depression and cover your head with your hands.
• MCBQ personnel should update recall rosters and procedures because it is essential that all commands and activities are able to quickly account for all personnel at all times.

For more information on tornadoes, visit the Virginia Emergency Management website at www.vaemergency.gov/node/203.

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