Tornadoes are violent rotating columns of air attached to thunderstorms and in contact with the ground. They are spawned from powerful thunderstorms and can cause fatalities and devastation in seconds. High winds (up to 300 mph) and flying debris can result in significant damage to vehicles and buildings, with damage paths of one mile wide and 50 miles long.
The National Weather Service (NWS) provides two types of tornado advisories. The first is a tornado watch, which means conditions are favorable for tornadoes. The second, a tornado warning, is much more dangerous. A tornado warning means that a tornado has been spotted or indicated on radar in the warning area. The NWS will add, remove, or modify advisories as conditions change.
The University’s policy is to suspend operations during a tornado warning. Classroom instruction stops; everyone should seek safe shelter.
If the campus is placed under a tornado warning by the National Weather Service:
- The outdoor warning siren on top of the Gorgas Library will activate. (Note: A siren test is conducted at noon on the first Wednesday of each month, weather permitting.)
- The office of University Relations will notify the campus community as described on the Warnings page.
- Everyone on campus should seek immediate shelter, preferably on the lowest floor of most buildings, away from windows and in the center of the building.
- Classes are temporarily suspended for the duration of the warning.
- Buses will cease operation.
- Check your building fire/tornado evacuation map located in each building for the best location to shelter. Best Available Refuge Areas (pdf)
- Alert others of the warning and help persons with disabilities obtain shelter.
- If possible, bring a portable radio with you to monitor the situation.
- Remain in the shelter until the warning has passed and it is safe to leave.
- Report any damage or injury to the University Police.
- Check on the well-being of your classmates, roommates, co-workers, and others.
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