2019 Tornado Memo



Tornadoes can occur year-round in southeastern Virginia. They can develop in association with severe weather fronts, seasonal temperature swings and even in conjunction with hurricanes. Tornados can strike with little warning; therefore it is critical to maintain a high level of tornado preparedness at all times.

Everyone at Jefferson Lab should take time – at least annually – to review tornado awareness and response actions. This poster highlights the most critical aspects of tornado preparedness.

It is important for members of the Jefferson Lab community to understand the difference between a Tornado Watch and a Tornado Warning, and to know the appropriate actions to take for each.

Tornado Watch

A Tornado Watch means that over the next several hours, atmospheric conditions across the region could support the development of tornadoes.

If Jefferson Lab is under a Tornado Watch, you should:

  • Review the emergency plan placards in your work areas to identify the closest and best Severe Wind Take Cover areas. These are designated by a funnel shape within a yellow circle. (Placards are posted on work area walls, and online. Click on a building number, then click on Maps in the column on the left).
  • Stay alert to weather conditions. Be prepared to evacuate to a Severe Wind Take Cover area if you see a tornado, hear the siren or receive a Tornado Warning or sighting message.
  • Stop and secure all work involving all chemicals (both indoors and outdoors).
  • Begin to prepare your outdoor work area; secure or bring indoors equipment and materials that could be damaged or become projectiles in high wind. Outdoor work may resume after a Tornado Watch or Warning has expired or a Jefferson Lab Severe Weather All Clear message has been sent.

A Tornado Warning is issued by the National Weather Service when Doppler Radar indicates that a thunderstorm in the region is capable of producing a tornado, someone spotted a tornado/funnel cloud or damage characteristic of a tornado is reported.

Tornado Warning

If Jefferson Lab is under a Tornado Warning, you should:

  • Immediately head to the closest/best Severe Wind Take Cover area. Close your office door behind you. If possible, go to the lowest level of your building, take cover in interior rooms and stairwells and stay away from windows.
  • Advise individuals along the way to Take Cover in case they didn’t get the warning message.
  • If caught outdoors, lie face-down in a ditch or low area with your arms covering your head. Stay away from trees, utility poles or items that could be blown on top of you.
  • Stay in the Take Cover area until you receive an “All Clear” message or the Tornado Warning has expired. If you get neither, wait 30 minutes from the time you took cover or from tornado impact. After that point, up to three volunteers from your shelter may venture out to check on the weather and other safety concerns, report back to the shelter and advise colleagues. If it isn’t safe outside, stay in your shelter until help arrives.

If a Tornado touches down on Jefferson Lab’s campus, you should:

  • Call 911 to report injuries. Call JLab Security at 757-269-5822 to report damage and dangerous situations.
  • Call your supervisor to report your status. Review this Integrated Safety Management poster for guidance.
  • If able, carefully render aid to injured individuals.
  • Stay away from dangling and downed power lines and water puddles with wires in or near them.
  • Avoid broken glass, nails and other sharp objects.
  • Stay out of heavily damaged buildings.