Category Archives: Inclement Weather

Be Prepared – Tornado

When you think of tornadoes, do you think they mainly only occur in the mid-west? Virginia has a long history of tornado activity–most recently last week when multiple tornadoes touched down in Richmond and several other Virginia areas. Several homes and business received significant damage and one fatality occurred. Tornadoes are not to be taken lightly!

Seconds count during tornadoes, so make sure you plan ahead. Have supplies in your home. Practice your plan with your family.  You should never question what to do when a tornado warning occurs–you should KNOW what to do because you prepared ahead. The video in this blog post highlights important tips to be prepared.

If a tornado warning  occurs while at NOVA, please follow the procedures outlined in the College Emergency Action Plan.


Make a Plan for your Office on Campus

While Virginia might have been lucky to not receive a direct impact, that does not mean we can let our guard down. Current forecasts predict Florence will turn back north-east once inland and may deliver additional rainfall in our region.

The Office of Emergency Management and Safety, along with College Instructional & Information Technology, sent important and helpful emails with preparedness information earlier this week. Please take the time to read them again in preparedness for whatever storm arrives next time.

Prepare yourself at the College now. Ask yourself and others in your department/office:

  • Do you have an updated call tree with everyone’s phone numbers?
  • What is your supervisor’s expectations of you and your team if the College is closed or you are unable to be at work?
  • Do you have the ability to work from an alternate location? Including access to a laptop, VPN, vital records needed for your job, etc.?
  • What is your leadership’s succession? If they are not available, who can make decisions for your office?
  • Do you have an emergency kit in the office? We will talk about making kits next week.
  • How would you continue your job or classroom instruction if there was a loss of:
    • Access to your normal building or classroom?
    • Equipment or systems failure (ex: power or IT system failure)?
    • Services due to a reduced workforce (ex: only half your team is available to work)?

These are all questions you and your team needs to discuss before an emergency occurs. Document this now and make sure your department’s Continuity of Operations (COOP) plan is updated.

For more information on how you can be ready at the College, please visit

NOVA Safety Video

Today is the start of the third week of classes! By now, everyone should be settled in and feeling prepared for the great semester ahead–but do not forget to prepare yourself for emergencies as well!

At the beginning of every semester, the Office of Emergency Management and Safety challenges the entire NOVA community to watch the NOVA Safety Video and refresh yourself on emergency procedures and resources. If you have not watched the video yet, or shared it with your class, please take 10 minutes to do so now.

Turn Around Don’t Drown

There has been some heavy rain storms this past weekend and the Northern Virginia region remains under flash flood watch. This is an important time to remember: “Turn Around Don’t Drown®!”

Each year, flooding causes more deaths than any other weather hazard. Most of these drownings could be prevented—if people better understood the force and power of rushing floodwater. Whether driving or walking, save your life, and the lives of your children and other family members or traveling companions. When you see flood waters ahead: Turn Around Don’t Drown®.

More than half of all flood-related drownings occur when vehicles are swept away because their drivers attempted to travel through flood water. Many drive around flood barriers because they mistakenly believe their 3,000 pound or more vehicle is so heavy it will stay in contact with the road surface.

Keep these facts in mind:

  • Six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars causing loss of control and possible stalling.
  • A foot of water will float many vehicles.
  • Two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles including sport utility vehicles (SUVs) and pick-ups.

The next highest percentage of flood-related deaths occurs when people try to walk through or walk too close to flood waters. It may be hard to believe, but it’s true that as little as six inches of fast-moving flood water can knock over an adult.

If you come to an area that is covered with flood water, you will not know the depth of the water or the condition of the ground under the water. Road beds may be washed out under flood waters. NEVER drive through flooded roadways. Play it smart, play it safe. Whether driving or walking, any time you come to a flooded area, Turn Around Don’t Drown®.

For more information go to and

Statewide Tornado Drill March 22nd at 9:45 AM

The annual Statewide Tornado Drill is scheduled for 9:45am on Tuesday, March 22nd.  NOVA’s faculty, staff, and students who are on campuses or in one of the College’s off-campus locations will participate in this mandatory Statewide Drill.

Severe Weather Shelter Sign

The annual Drill is an opportunity to practice tornado safety by going to Severe Weather Shelter Areas found throughout NOVA facilities.  This Drill encourages the NOVA Community to review emergency procedures and ensure everyone is ready to act FAST if a Tornado Warning is issued.

In the event that there is severe weather and a Tornado Warning has been issued – SEEK SHELTER IMMEDIATELY!

    • The nearest Severe Weather Shelter Area (as seen in the example on the right) OR
    • An appropriate area capable of providing protection from the event:
      • Hardened structure
      • Interior hallway or room free of windows or other glass structures
      • At the lowest level possible in the building – use stairs, do NOT use elevators
    • Use your arms to protect your head and neck.  Protect your body from flying debris with any available furniture or sturdy equipment.
    • Do NOT open windows.
    • Take account of your co-workers and/or students and attempt to locate missing persons if safety permits.


Tornado Watch
A tornado is possible in your area.  You should monitor weather-alert radios and local radio and TV stations for information.

Tornado Warning
A tornado has been sighted in the area or has been indicated by National Weather Service Doppler radar.  When a Warning is issued, take cover immediately.

Tornados can happen anytime, anywhere, with little or no warning.  Knowing what to do when seconds count can save lives.  For more information visit the Virginia Department of Emergency Management’s website .