General Information:

Tornadoes usually occur in the spring and summer; they are formed by severe thunderstorms.  Considered nature’s most violent and erratic storms, they consist of whirling winds of up to 300 miles per hour.  Tornadoes can sweep through an area, causing serious damage and destruction.  In addition to injuries and structural damage, electrical shorts, gas leaks, etc., may create fires or other hazards.  Everyone must understand the terminology associated with tornado safety.

Some tornadoes are clearly visible, while rain or nearby low-hanging clouds obscure others.  Occasionally, tornadoes develop so rapidly that little, if any, advance warning is possible.

Before a tornado hits, the wind may die down and the air may become very still.  A cloud of debris can mark the location of a tornado even if a funnel is not visible.  Tornadoes generally occur near the trailing edge of a thunderstorm.  It is not uncommon to see clear, sunlit skies behind a tornado.

Tornado Watch: Weather conditions are considered favorable for tornadoes 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 warning means that a tornado has been sighted by the public or local law enforcement, or that Doppler radar has indicated an area of rotation that could develop, or has developed, into a tornado.

Take shelter immediately.  Remember that tornadoes can form and move quickly; therefore, there may not be adequate time to issue a warning.  If severe thunderstorms occur, be alert to the fact that a thunderstorm could trigger a tornado, and be prepared.

The following are facts about tornadoes:

    • They may strike quickly, with little or no warning.
    • They may appear nearly transparent until dust and debris are picked up or a cloud forms in the funnel.
    • The average tornado moves Southwest to Northeast, but tornadoes have been known to move in any direction.
    • The average forward speed of a tornado is 30 MPH, but may vary from stationary to 70 MPH.
    • Tornadoes can accompany tropical storms and hurricanes as they move onto land.
    • Waterspouts are tornadoes that form over water.
    • Tornadoes are most frequently reported east of the Rocky Mountains during spring and summer months.
    • Peak tornado season in the southern states is March through May; in the northern states, it is late spring through early summer.
    • Tornadoes are most likely to occur between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m., but can occur at any time.


Response Actions:

During a tornado warning, follow the procedure listed below.

In a vehicle:

    • If a tornado approaches when you are on the road, try to get to an indoor shelter as quickly as possible.  Find a sturdy building and get to the basement or an interior room.


If you cannot reach shelter:

    • Get off the road as soon as possible.  It is often better to leave the road completely than to pull over to the side.
    • Avoid stopping under bridges and tunnels.  These over and under passes channel high winds, making them more dangerous than being out in the open.
    • Stay low.  Stay in your car, secured into your seat belt, and put your head down below the window–covering it with your hands or a blanket if you have one.  Or, if you can safely get lower than the level of the roadway, exit your car and lie in that area, covering your head with your hands.


Inside buildings:

    • Stay away from all windows and doors;
    • Do not open windows
    • Move to an interior corridor away from windows;
    • Stay away from lobbies, walkways, atriums and other large glassed-in areas, and large open areas with a long roof span;
    • If available, take cell phone and flashlight;
    • Crouch down along the wall or under a sturdy table and protect your head with your arms from possible debris;
    • Remain in sheltered area until given the all clear by Campus Security or other Emergency or University Personnel.


Outside of buildings:

  • When instructed or conditions warrant, seek shelter in the nearest building;
  • Stay away from all windows and doors;
  • Move to an interior corridor away from windows;
  • Stay away from lobbies, walkways, atriums and other large glassed-in areas, and large open areas with a long roof span;
  • If there is no shelter available, lie in a ditch or other earthen depression; and
  • Never attempt to outrun a tornado.
  • Once an all-clear has been given, follow the procedure below:
  • If the building was not affected by incident, return to your previous location; and
  • If your building was affected by the incident, attempt to safely exit the building.  If unable to do so, seek help by calling Campus Security at 740.283-6911 or 911.  If no telephone is available, try to get the attention of outside personnel by making noise, such as yelling.