Year-Round Awareness Needed for Tornado Preparedness

Tornadoes can occur year round in eastern Virginia; they can develop in association with severe weather fronts, seasonal temperature swings, and even in conjunction with hurricanes, and can strike with little warning. Therefore it is critical to maintain a high level of tornado preparedness.

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

It is critical to understand the difference between a Tornado Watch and a Tornado Warning, and to know the appropriate actions to take for each.

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 from Jefferson Lab or over your smart phone.
  • You must stop and secure all work involving ALL chemicals (indoors and outdoors).
  • You must 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 Watch or Warning has expired or a JLab 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.

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. 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. Then two or 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 Hits, you should:

  • Call 911 to report injuries. Call JLab Security at 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 powerlines and water puddles with wires in or near them.
  • Avoid broken glass, nails and other sharp objects.
  • Stay out of heavily damaged buildings.