Tornados are formed by severe thunderstorms and usually occur in the spring and summer. Tornados can form and move quickly. Considered nature's most violent storms, they can consist of winds of up to 300 miles per hour. Everyone should understand the terminology associated with tornado safety.


Tornado Watch: Conditions are favorable for tornados to form in and near the watch area. These conditions are determined by the National Weather Service which transmits the watch information through weather radio, television and radio. When a tornado watch has been issued for your area, you should monitor weather radio, local radio or television for additional watches or warnings.


Tornado Warning: A tornado has been sighted by the public or local law enforcement, or radar has indicated an area of rotation that could develop, or has developed, into a tornado. When the National Weather Service issues a tornado warning, the weather radio and/or the tornado sirens will be activated. Take shelter immediately. 

Safety Tips

  • If you hear a tornado siren while inside a building, go to a basement or windowless interior room on the lowest level; restrooms often are best. Avoid outside walls, elevators,windows and buildings with large expansive roof structures, like the Armory. Many campus buildings have designated severe weather shelter areas.

  • If you are outside and hear the tornado siren, go to the nearest building and follow the same procedures.

  • If you are driving a car and debris begins flying around you, pull over, park, and

    • stay in the car, buckle your seatbelt and keep your head below the windows and cover it with your hands or a blanket, or

    • if you can safely get to a ditch or area lower than the road, exit the car, lie down and cover your head.

  • If there is no time to escape or find shelter, lie flat in a ditch or depression, avoiding areas subject to flooding in heavy rains.


Publications and Forms