Charlottesville Tornado Preparedness Initiative

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Severe Weather Awareness

TornadoTornadoes are nature's most violent storms, with deadly winds approaching 300 mph. They have hit every state in the nation, often with only a few minutes' warning. Being prepared and acting quickly can save your life.

How can you prepare? Whether you're focused on family, school or business, you'll find the information you need on this site. Read the information below, and explore the links that follow.

Charlottesville Area Tornado Readiness Project
Tips for Schools and Businesses

Virginia Tornadoes

Watch vs. Warning
Knowing the difference can save your life: A watch means tornadoes are possible. A warning means a tornado has actually been sighted and may be headed your way. When a warning is issued, take cover quickly.

Know the signs of a tornado

  • 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.
  • 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, maybe a tornado.
  • Persistent lowering of the cloud base.
  • If you see any of these signs, take cover!

Tornado preparedness outreach
How can you get your winter preparedness message out to your community? Find out how you can make a difference in your community's level of preparedness.