A tornado touched down Dec. 31, 2010, on Fort Leonard Wood, causing an estimated $90 million in damage.
A tornado touched down Dec. 31, 2010, on Fort Leonard Wood, causing an estimated $90 million in damage. (Photo Credit: Photo by Catherine Threat, 88th Regional Support Command) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — While dangerous, extreme weather can occur any time of the year, peak tornado season in Missouri is recognized as March through May — when tornadoes are most likely to materialize here.

To kick off the season, Fort Leonard Wood is set to participate in Missouri’s statewide tornado drill, starting at 10 a.m. March 8. The drill provides a chance for the installation to practice sheltering actions and ensure readiness in case of a severe weather emergency, said Troy Carney, Installation Emergency Manager.

Now is an ideal time to develop and practice safety plans for extreme weather events, like tornadoes, Carney said.

“Awareness is the biggest force multiplier during severe weather,” Carney said. “A lot of the military and civilians who are not from this part of the country just don’t think about tornadoes — that is one of the last things on their mind.”

Carney said seeking shelter immediately should be priority No. 1 for everybody when a tornado has been observed in the area and a tornado warning has been issued. Many buildings on post have designated shelter areas, but nearly any shelter is better than remaining outside — most people who are killed or injured in tornadoes are hit by flying debris, so bridges and overpasses are generally not recommended shelter areas.

“If you hear sirens, take action — that’s the biggest thing,” Carney said. “More people are killed from inaction than anything when it pertains to severe weather. Find a sturdy building, or, worst case, find a ditch; get to the lowest point you possibly can. It could save your life.”

Once indoors, Carney said to shelter in an underground level — such as a basement or cellar — if available.

“If not, stay away from windows and go to the most inner room of the first floor,” Carney said. “Do not worry about prized possessions outside in the car; don’t spend time gathering expensive belongings in a home; and most importantly, do not risk lives by standing outside to observe a storm — meteorologists and climate science professionals will likely have videos online afterward.”

Available resources

Carney recommended that everyone develop a communication plan for their families, in addition to building a basic disaster supply kit. Click here for more information on what to include in a kit, along with tips for remaining in contact with loves ones when mobile networks are overwhelmed or unavailable.

Another resource for the Fort Leonard Wood community is the ALERT! mass notification system, Carney added. Service members and Department of Defense civilians are automatically enrolled to receive notifications, but family members must sign up manually. Call 573.563.5041 for more information. To update information in ALERT!, click here.

The Fort Leonard Wood Weather Alerts Page is a resource that gets updated at 4 a.m. every day year-round and as weather conditions change.

The installation’s Facebook page is another resource that gets updated quickly regarding weather emergencies, road conditions, facility closures or other official announcements.