Here’s what you need to know for Severe Weather Awareness Week

A statewide tornado drill will take place Thursday, March 7 at 9:45 a.m.

March 4-8 is severe weather awareness week. (WSLS 10)

ROANOKE, Va. – As a reminder, a statewide tornado drill will take place Thursday, March 7 at 9:45 a.m.

The Virginia Department of Emergency Management strongly encourages every school, business, workplace and family across the Commonwealth to participate in the tornado drill.

The drill will be broadcast on NOAA Weather Radio and Emergency Alert System. There will not be an actual tornado warning issued, and the notification will not be sent to cell phones.

You can find more information on the statewide tornado drill here, and you can register for the drill here.

[INSIDERS: You can view our 30-minute severe weather special FIRST on March 13.]

This comes as Severe Weather Awareness Week continues, promoted by The Virginia Department of Emergency Management and the National Weather Service who are working to to keep you weather aware.

This week is designed to refresh, remind and educate everyone about seasonal threats from severe weather and how to avoid them.

WSLS 10 News wants to make sure you’re prepared in the event of severe weather.

Each day this week, a different topic will be covered and shared on social media to help you stay safe and be prepared during severe weather. You can see an overview of the topics below.


  • Watch v. Warning

Meteorologist Chris Michaels briefly explained the difference between the two on Virginia Today.

You can also watch the clip below that we posted to Instagram.

Here is a look at the number of tornado warnings issued in our area over the past five years.

Here is a look at the number of tornado warnings issued in our area over the past five years.


  • Tornadoes

Tornadoes can and do happen in our area. Though they may not happen with the regularity of states like Oklahoma, Texas or Alabama, we still do get them.

According to a study done by the National Weather Service in Blacksburg, tornadoes happen most in areas east of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Here's a look at the number of tornadoes per county since 1950.


  • Severe thunderstorms (hail, lightning, and wind)

A severe thunderstorm is characterized as any storm that’s capable of producing damage. That can be through either straight-line wind, large hail or a tornado.

Severe thunderstorms are capable of doing damage via wind, hail and/or a tornado.

Lightning is not included in the criteria for a severe thunderstorm warning. Otherwise, every summer storm would come with a warning.


  • Flash flooding

Flooding is something we’re used to, whether that comes quickly from a summer storm or happens gradually over time from a multi-day soaker. One of the key things when faced with flooding is how to respond when on the road.

Water is one of the strongest forces on Earth, and it can carry cars, vans, trucks, etc. depending on how deep and fast-moving it is.

Fast-moving water can carry people or vehicles, depending on how deep it is.


  • Outdoor weather safety

Especially as we get into the spring and summer months, it’s important to keep outdoor safety in mind. A storm doesn’t have to be “severe” to cause issues.

Lightning myths are common. Let's debunk some of them.

Here is a list of helpful tips to get you in the right mindset ahead of peak storm season.

Lightning can be very dangerous, no matter the season in which it strikes.

About the Authors

Lauren Helkowski joined WSLS 10’s digital team in August 2022, but has held a passion for storytelling long before.

Meteorologist Chris Michaels is an American Meteorological Society (AMS) Certified Broadcaster, forecasting weather conditions in southwest Virginia on WSLS 10 News from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. weekdays on Virginia Today.