The National Weather Service, the State Emergency Management Agency and Missouri's local emergency management offices urge Missourians to use Missouri Severe Weather Awareness Week, March 3-7, to plan and prepare for how they will react to tornadoes, flash flooding and other severe weather. Each day of the week has a different theme.

Please note that Missouri’s 40th annual Statewide Tornado Drill has been moved to Thursday, March 6 at 1:30 p.m. At that time, outdoor warning sirens and weather alert radios will sound, indicating that Missourians should seek shelter during this statewide drill. The safest shelter location is the basement or an interior room in the lowest level of a building. The drill is complete once everyone is accounted for in the designated shelters.

Monday, March 3 - Severe Weather Preparedness

Step 1: Identify the severe weather hazards you may face.

In the Central United States, severe thunderstorms are a fact of life. These storms can produce tornadoes, damaging wind gusts, large hail, heavy rain and flash flooding. At some point in your life, you will likely be faced with one or all of these hazards.

Step 2: Set up your plan. Everyone should have a severe weather plan for their home.

Step 3: Practice your plan! Conduct drills and then review the drill to find strengths and weaknesses and make improvements where necessary.

Tuesday, March 4 – Tornado Day

Know what these terms mean:

Tornado Watch means that conditions are favorable for severe thunderstorms, which also means possible tornado development. Keep alert by listening to NOAA Weather Radio or tuned to commercial media for the latest weather information.

Tornado Warning means that you should take shelter immediately because a tornado has been sighted, or the National Weather Service radar indicates that a thunderstorm may be capable of producing a tornado at any moment. People in the path of the storm should take immediate shelter.

Take shelter in a basement or other underground location; it is by far the best shelter from a tornado. If a basement is not available, move to a small interior room or other interior location away from windows, such as a hallway.

Wednesday, March 5 - Flash Flood and Flood Safety Day

Flash floods and flood events are major weather killers in Missouri. Only recently in the past 10 years, due to a number of major tornado outbreaks, have deaths caused by tornadoes surpassed deaths caused by flooding. Many people do not realize the power of flowing water. Trees, buildings, automobiles, and people can easily be swept away by flood waters.

Fact: Six inches of swiftly flowing can knock a person over.

Fact: Two feet of water will make most vehicles float.

Never drive into a flooded area. If you encounter a flooded road while you are driving, follow this simple rule: Turn around! Don’t drown!

Thursday, March 6 - Severe Thunderstorm Safety Day

Every thunderstorm produces lightning. Lightning typically kills more people each year than tornadoes. Severe thunderstorms also can produce high winds, gusting downbursts of air capable of overturning a trailer, heavy rain that can cause flash flooding, hail and tornadoes.

Take shelter from a severe thunderstorm and avoid driving. To avoid being hit by lightning during a thunderstorm if you are outdoors, get off heavy equipment, get out of the water (including puddles) and out of small boats and away from the beach. Take shelter in a building if possible, and avoid being near or under trees.

Friday, March 7 - NOAA Weather Radio Day

Consider getting a NOAA Weather Radio! As the "Voice of the National Weather Service," the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) provides continuous broadcasts of the latest weather information from local National Weather Service (NWS) offices. Weather messages are repeated every 4 to 6 minutes and are routinely updated every 1 to 3 hours, or more frequently in rapidly-changing local weather.

A NOAA Weather Radio is currently the only device available that can warn of impending severe weather, or another type of disaster, 24-7. During severe weather, NWS meteorologists can interrupt routine weather broadcasts and insert special warning messages about imminent threats to life and property. A NOAA Weather Radio, when set to alert mode, will turn on automatically when it receives a warning from the NWS.

For more information about severe weather awareness and preparedness, please visit http://www.crh.noaa.gov/lsx/?n=severeweek.