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Bartow, Fla. (Feb. 8, 2022) — The statewide Great Tornado Drill is scheduled for this week and Polk County’s Emergency Management wants everyone to be ready.

The annual drill, coordinated through the Florida Division of Emergency Management and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is scheduled for 10 a.m. Feb. 9 on the NOAA Weather Radio.

“There are a number of instances where tornadoes can spawn in our area,” Polk Emergency Director Paul Womble said. “Strong cold fronts this time of year are one example. They can also be found in the bands of tropical storms and hurricanes. The point is, just because we aren’t in the Midwest doesn’t mean we are immune from these weather events. We want people to take these threats seriously and prepare themselves.”

In just the last several years, Polk has experienced the devastating effects of two tornadoes. While the damage was isolated to several parts of western Polk, the damage was significant.

During the morning of the drill, those participating should consider themselves under a tornado watch starting at 8 a.m. At that point, you should monitor the weather, review your tornado plan and be prepared to go to a safe place in the event of a warning.

At 10 a.m., the National Weather Service will issue a practice tornado warning, which will be broadcast as a routine weekly message. Upon determining the immediate threat, give a “take shelter” or “duck and cover” command. School districts, private schools, preschools and daycare centers are also encouraged to participate in the drill.

The Great Tornado Drill is held during Severe Weather Awareness Week, Feb. 7 through 11. For more tips and information on severe weather, go to Polk County Emergency Management’s social media feed:

Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/polkcountyem

Twitter: @PolkEmergency

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