This year participants responded to the touchdown of a tornado. The exercise was conducted to ensure personnel in the Fort Detrick community understand the importance of being prepared before an incident occurs, especially those incidents that can occur without notice, like a tornado.
Exercise participants acknowledged that their performance during an exercise reveals both areas for improvement as well as best practices. As testament to the progress the area’s emergency management community has made with disaster preparations, CBS Money Watch ranked the Bethesda-Rockville-Frederick, Md. region at number five in its list of the top 10 U.S. cities safest from natural disasters. CBS Money Watch also reported that hurricanes are the most likely disaster to occur in this region, but noted that the area is far enough inland from the Eastern shore that the full impact would be reduced.
While the National Weather Service can recognize when storms may transform into potential tornadoes, there are no systems in place to predict the timing or path of a tornado. Tornadoes form without notice and last up to 30 minutes. Hurricanes, on the other hand, do provide a signature for weather patterns to be predicted, however, the paths can also change.
The Fort Detrick community is likely to feel the effects of a winter storm, flash flooding, heavy rains, and strong winds. Visit http://www.fema.gov or http://www.ready.gov to learn more about what you can do to prepare your home, work, and car against these disasters. Preparedness starts with you. Be your own hero.