Tornado warning sirens to be tested Wednesday, March 23

As part of Severe Weather Awareness Week in Ohio (March 20-26, 2011), there will be a statewide tornado drill and test of outdoor warning sirens on Wednesday, March 23 at 9:50 a.m. In Clermont County, 53 emergency sirens will be tested.

“We encourage schools, businesses, and households to practice tornado drills on Wednesday,” said Clermont Emergency Management Agency Director Beth Nevel. “The best defense we have when faced with a tornado, flood, or other disaster is preparedness. Make sure you have a disaster plan in place and practice it. Have a shelter-in-place kit and a weather alert radio handy. These preparedness strategies can and do save lives.”

When practicing a tornado drill or sheltering during a tornado warning, the Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness encourages everyone to DUCK, go Down to the lowest level, get Under something, Cover your head, and Keep in shelter until the storm has passed. “The safest place to be during a tornado is in a basement,” said Nevel. “If the building you are in doesn’t have a basement or cellar, go to a small, centrally located room on the lowest level of the building, such as a bathroom or closet or an interior hallway.”

Nevel said that if you are in a vehicle or mobile home when a tornado threatens, it is important to get out immediately and go to the lowest floor of a sturdy, nearby building or storm shelter. “If you are outside with no shelter available, find a ditch or other depression to lie in and cover your head,” she said.

According to the National Weather Service (NWS), a tornado is a violently rotating column of air that extends from the base of a thunderstorm. A condensation funnel does not need to reach the ground for a funnel to be present; a debris cloud beneath a thunderstorm is all that is needed to confirm the presence of a tornado.

Clermont County sounds warning sirens when the NWS issues a tornado warning; sirens are also activated when a severe thunderstorm warning is issued while the county is under a tornado watch.

The NWS reports that a tornado watch means conditions are favorable for a tornado to develop, but a tornado has not been sighted. “When you hear the siren, take cover and tune in to local media and your weather alert radio for additional information,” said Nevel.

For more information on tornado safety and severe weather preparedness, visit the Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness website at