Statewide drills prepare North Carolina students for possible tornadoes

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Students at schools across the North Carolina interrupted their studies at 9:30 Wednesday morning, seconds after they heard a piercing alarm echo through their classrooms.

That sound signaled the start of a tornado drill, and the children at Hunter Magnet Elementary quickly filed out into the halls, where they lined up, crouched low and face down with their heads close to the walls.

They maintained that position for several minutes until the alarm stopped, minutes later.

It's an annual exercise during Severe Weather Preparedness Week, with more urgency in 2019 after a deadly weekend tornadoes left trails of destruction across Alabama and Georgia.

And yes, weather experts said it could happen here.

"March and April have been traditionally the months when we've had the most devastating tornadoes that have affected our state in the past," said Nick Petro, a National Weather Service meteorologist assigned to Raleigh.

In April of 2018, ABC11 reported on the tornado that battered Greensboro, and with the proliferation of mobile devices, it's possible for anyone with a smartphone or tablet see more tornado spawned devastation almost as soon as the big storms tear through a community.

That's motivation for one student who spoke with ABC11. Wasswa Myers knows it's important to plan ahead, just in case.

"We are not afraid to do those tornado drills. Our teachers, throughout the year, will do a practice tornado drill," said Myers, a 5th grader who sat with his classmates in the media center after the drill ended. They listened carefully while Petro explained the science of tornadoes, and had plenty of questions for him about the cause of those deadly storms.

Petro's advice, for the children and their families: "You want to get inside an interior room on the lowest floor. You want to place as many walls between you and the outside. And a room with windows is not a good point of shelter. It needs to be interior."

Young Myers plans to spread that message after school.

"I tell them always make sure to find a safe spot, and make sure they and their family, whoever they are, are taken care of. And make sure they're always prepared."
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