Dallas County will be participating in the statewide tornado drill on Wednesday, March 27.

The drill will include the activation of the Dallas County outdoor warning sirens. The drill will start promptly at 10 a.m. with a “tornado watch” being issued. At 10:15 a.m., a “tornado warning” will be issued, the outdoor warning sirens will be activated and residents participating in the drill should practice seeking shelter. The drill will end at 10:35 a.m. There will not be an all-clear signal.

Dallas County has been impacted by 51 tornadoes since 1955. Most recently, a tornado in 2009 that impacted parts of Minburn and Woodward. You can find a list of all 51 tornadoes online.

A tornado is a violently rotating column of air in contact with the ground. The peak tornado months are May and June (July is 3rd), but tornadoes can occur any time of year if conditions are right. Peak tornado time is 3 to 9 p.m., but they can occur day or night, and may be hard to spot or wrapped in rain at times. Tornadoes are not always visible and can form with little advance warning.

Tornadoes are an interesting weather event, but it cannot be stressed enough that they are dangerous. We can all appreciate photos and videos of tornadoes, but only if it is done safely. Tornadoes can easily throw debris significant distances with force. We often see buildings impaled by debris after an event and we certainly do not want persons to be injured for video, please consider the safety of your actions and seek shelter when necessary.

Know that our outdoor warning system is only intended to alert those outdoors. Individuals are encouraged to have a weather radio or other notification means indoors to receive alerts. Another thing to know prior to a severe weather event is the outdoor warning system activation criteria for your jurisdiction. The criteria for activation varies across the state and can even vary across county-lines.

If a tornado or funnel cloud is spotted, or a warning is issued for your county, take action to protect yourself.

At home

Move to a sturdy building. Shelters are more safe than mobile homes, especially mobile homes older than 1976. Stay away from windows. Do not try to open or close windows. Stay away from outside doors and garages. Move to a basement and get under something sturdy. If you have no basement, move to the lowest level and get in an interior room, like a bathroom or closet. Put as many walls between you and the storm as possible.

At work

Move to a basement or interior hallway on the lowest level. Leave large span rooms.

At school

Leave classrooms that have windows or that are on the exterior of the building. Leave large span rooms, like gymnasium or auditoriums. Seek shelter in interior rooms and get under desks or sturdy objects. Be careful in hallways that may act as wind tunnels and funnel debris. Move students off buses and back into the school. Do not let students board buses during a tornado warning.

When traveling

Do not try and outrun a tornado. If the tornado is some distance away, drive away from it. If the tornado is relatively close, leave your vehicle for a sturdy building. If no shelter is available, seek refuge in a ditch or culvert. Crouch down and protect your head.

If outdoors

Find a shelter if possible. If boating or fishing, move to shore. If no shelter is available, seek refuge in a low spot. Crouch down and protect your head.