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Central Florida Residents Test Storm Readiness With Great Tornado Drill

Image: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Image: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Tornado drills are taking place across Central Florida Wednesday morning.

With the El Niño weather raising the tornado risk, emergency managers want residents to make sure they’re prepared.

The great tornado drill takes place at 10 a.m.

You’ll need a weather radio to take part.

Once you hear the warning, practice getting to a safe place: ideally a basement, a shelter or an interior room without windows. Then take a ‘shelter selfie’ and post it on social media with the hashtag #tornadodrill.

Steve Watts, director of emergency management for Osceola County, said he wants people to know where to go for shelter if a tornado hits:

“whether it be somewhere locally in their community or even giving some consideration to going out of town if they live in a mobile home park or campground.”

Watts said mobile home parks and campgrounds are some of the most vulnerable areas during a tornado.

“We’re working with the city of Kissimmee fire department, Osceola County Fire Department and Saint Cloud to personally go out and visit each mobile home park and camp ground in the county and provide them with information for their residents,” he said.

Deadly tornadoes can strike at night, so emergency managers recommend having a weather radio on hand.

Watts said it’s also a good idea to keep your cellphone charged and next to your bed.

“The newer technology phones and smart phones come already pre-loaded with that feature that alerts the phone for things like amber alerts and severe weather alerts,” he said.

During El Niño conditions in 1998, tornadoes killed 42 people in Central Florida, many of them in Osceola County.  A 2007 tornado outbreak in Lake and Volusia Counties left 21 people dead.

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About Matthew Peddie

Matt Peddie