Today is Tornado Awareness Day in Missouri, and the State Emergency Management Agency is teaming up with the National Weather Service to make sure Missourians are prepared.
A statewide tornado drill is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, unless there is actually severe weather brewing, in which case the drill will be at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday.
The most recent "killer tornado" in Missouri, according to SEMA, is when a twister swept through Jasper, Newton and Barry counties in southwest Missouri, killing 16 people and injuring more than 200. That was last May 10.
The goal of Tuesday’s drill is to make sure everyone has a safety plan in place well before Spring tornado season is upon them.
"This is just a drill so we can start thinking about if we do have severe weather this spring, people don’t have to panic, they know directly where to go," says SEMA spokeswoman Susie Stoner.
Stoner says this year marks the 35th annual statewide drill.
"Notification is sent out by National Weather Service, local agencies may set off sirens, we want people to know where to seek safe shelter," she says. "If they’re at home, in a school, at work, people hear the sirens, they can go immediately to their local radio stations or television to get the latest reports."
The two key terms to remember, she says, are tornado watch and tornado warning.
A tornado watch means "keep an eye on the sky for severe weather. A tornado warning means take shelter immediately.
"Don’t go outside, don’t look outside, just go to the most safe location, whether it’s at home, work or school, then account for everybody."