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Familiarize yourself with weather threats

This week is Virginia Severe Weather Awareness Week, and we encourage everyone to take a few moments to familiarize themselves with some of the most common severe weather events that occur in Virginia.

You can visit www.weather.gov/akq/SevereWeatherAwareness to view the National Weather Service Wakefield Weather Forecast Office’s information on this topic. You will find lots of information about tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, hail and wind, flash flooding, lightning and the differences between a watch and a warning. You can even find a link to tune in live at 7:30 p.m. this Wednesday for a question-and-answer session with National Weather Service experts.

This Thursday, unfortunately, the Hampton Roads and Western Tidewater areas are at marginal risk from a line of severe storms that could produce tornadoes. Having just survived a year that, with all its many troubles, also brought tornadoes to Suffolk as part of Hurricane Isaias as well as a bout of twisters on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, we could all use some extra knowledge about what to do in the case of a tornado threat.

If your area is covered by a tornado warning, and you are at home, you should go to your basement, safe room, or an interior room away from windows. Don’t forget pets if time allows. If you’re at your workplace or school, follow the tornado drill and go to your tornado shelter location quickly and calmly. Stay away from windows and do not go to large open rooms such as cafeterias, gymnasiums or auditoriums.

If you find yourself outside or in a vehicle with a tornado approaching, seek shelter inside a sturdy building immediately if you have time. Sheds, storage facilities and mobile homes are not suitable. If you’re in a vehicle, drive to the closest shelter. If you don’t have time to drive to a shelter, get down in your car and cover your head. If you’re outside, seek shelter in a low-lying area such as a ditch or ravine.