REISTERSTOWN, Md. — Maryland residents are invited to participate in the Great Maryland Twister Test on Wednesday, April 12, and practice what to do in case the National Weather Service (NWS) issues a tornado warning.
The 10 a.m. drill is being coordinated by the Maryland Department of Emergency Management (MDEM), NWS, and other partners as part of the 2023 Maryland Severe Storms Awareness Week, April 10-16, 2023.
At 10 a.m. Wednesday, April 12, the NWS will issue a statement over National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radios about the tornado drill. Be aware, while an EAS test code will precede this message, that Required Monthly Test (RMT) code may not trigger some weather radios.
This test code will also not trigger Wireless Emergency Alerts over cell phones. Schools, businesses, community groups, and individuals can practice what to do when a tornado warning is issued by NWS. While everyone is encouraged to participate in the drill Wednesday at 10 a.m., you can practice at other times too.
Families, for example, might want to practice when everyone is at home.“Tornadoes strike with little or no warning, so knowing how to quickly move to safety is essential,” said MDEM Secretary Russ Strickland. “Whether you are in school, at work, or at home, knowing how to receive a warning and the safest place to go during a tornado warning is vital.”Tornadoes happen almost every year in Maryland – sometimes even violent and deadly ones. Already this year, a small tornado damaged several buildings and knocked down utility poles and trees in Cecil County on April 1.
Fortunately, there were no injuries reported. However, since 2000, fatalities have been reported from tornadoes in LaPlata (Charles County), College Park (Prince George’s County), and Baltimore City.Tornadoes are violently rotating columns of air that extend from a thunderstorm to the ground. Tornadoes can destroy buildings, flip cars, and create deadly flying debris.
While most common in our warm season in the afternoons and evenings, tornadoes can happen anytime and anywhere in Maryland when conditions are right. They bring intense, damaging winds that are often 80-110 miles per hour, and sometimes devastating winds as great as 150-200 mph that can destroy homes.
These rotating funnel clouds that extend to the ground create a path of damage often as wide as a football field, and sometimes up to a mile wide.
If you are under a tornado or severe weather warning:
- Go to a safe shelter immediately, such as a safe room, basement, storm cellar, or a small interior room on the lowest level of a sturdy building.
- Stay away from windows, doors, and outside walls.
- Do not go under an overpass or bridge. You’re safer in a low, flat location.
- Watch out for flying debris that can cause injury or death.
- Use your arms to protect your head and neck. If they are close by, you can also use pillows, blankets, or couch cushions to protect those parts of your body.
- Make plans to go to a public shelter if you can’t stay home.
- Go to NOAA Weather Radio and your local news or official social media accounts for updated emergency information. Follow the instructions of State and local officials.
In conjunction with the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) and the Maryland Center for School Safety (MCSS), public and private schools have been given guidance for directing students, faculty, and staff to the safest areas of their facilities during a tornado warning. Schools are being encouraged to practice during the Great Maryland Twister Test at 10 a.m. Wednesday if at all possible, and at other times if needed.
The NWS Baltimore/Washington Weather Forecast Office, which covers most Maryland jurisdictions, is coordinating this statement and drill in conjunction with their colleagues at NWS Mount Holly (PA), which covers Caroline, Kent, Queen Anne’s, and Talbot counties, and NWS Wakefield (VA), which handles Dorchester, Somerset, Wicomico, and Worcester counties.
Marylanders also are encouraged to download the MdReady WebApp, which gives instant access to a wide array of emergency notifications and preparedness information to residents and visitors alike. To install the new WebApp, users can visit MdReady.maryland.gov and follow the prompt to easily add the MdReady shortcut to a mobile device home screen, or to sign up for text alerts in English or Spanish.
Visit our Severe Storms Awareness Week page for more information: https://mdem.maryland.gov/Pages/severe-storms-week.aspx. To find more preparedness information for severe storms and other hazards, please visit the following websites: mdem.maryland.gov/Pages/types-of-emergencies.aspx, weather.gov/safety, or ready.gov.