Severe Weather


Tornado- Tornadoes are most likely to occur in the mid-afternoon, generally between 3 and 7 p.m. Movement is generally from southwest to northeast. The length of the path ranges from 4 to 16 miles and the width is generally 300 to 400 yards. Speed ranges from 25 to 40 miles per hour with estimated speeds within the tornado of 500 miles per hour.

The cloud associated with a tornado is a dark, heavy cumulonimbus (thunderstorm cloud) from which a whirling funnel-shaped pendent extends to or near the ground. Precipitation usually occurs first as rain preceding the storm, frequently with hail and as a heavy downpour immediately to the left of the tornado's path. The sound of a tornado has been described as a roaring, rushing noise similar to that of a train speeding through a tunnel.

Tornado Watch- A tornado watch is issued when the conditions are favorable for the formation of a tornado. The local National Weather Service will issue a watch bulletin to the local authorities and the local media. During a tornado watch, keep an eye on the weather and be prepared to take shelter immediately if conditions worsen.

Tornado Warning- A tornado warning is given when a tornado funnel is sighted, indicated by radar, or is about to strike. You may only have a few minutes to go to safety. If a tornado is imminent, personnel should take the following actions:

1. Seek shelter in the lowest levels of buildings or an interior hallway remaining clear of exterior windows and doors. Refer to previously provided information for the designation of shelter areas in your building. Additionally, signs are placed in all campus buildings designating shelter areas.

2. Immediately evacuate areas without reinforced construction such as auditoriums, gymnasiums, and large rooms with wide freespan roofs.

3. If caught in open areas, move away from the tornado's path at a right angle. If there is no time to escape, lie flat in the nearest depression, such as a ravine or ditch.

Office of Residential Life Tornado Procedures Tornado Communications Network

At the beginning of each semester and summer session, a list of ten contact points (names and phone numbers) will be compiled for each residence hall. This list will include the six staff members plus an additional four individuals. Each member of the NETWORK will receive a copy of the names and phone numbers of each member and a list of selected ground floor contact points. It is the responsibility of the hall director to meet with the ten-member NETWORK team and review the process.

Procedures Performed as Needed

1. In the event of a tornado watch, the Residential Life staff will be on alert but are not to alarm the residents.

2. In the event of a tornado warning the Residential Life staff will perform the following:

a. After being notified of a tornado warning for Putnam County via Residential Life Administrator, begin the NETWORK.
b. Begin moving residents to the bottom floor.
c. Post a staff member in the designated gathering location to help keep residents calm.
d. Carry flashlight and radio with you to designated location.
e. Request that students do not go outside to watch.
f. Stay on the ground floor until you have been informed of safety. You will be notified when the danger is passed.
g. When the tornado danger has passed, staff may allow residents to return to their rooms, but should remain on alert.

NOTE: Severe Weather Sirens do not always indicate a Tornado Warning. At least one staff member should remain near the office phone to conduct network. Use of good sound judgement regarding this policy is understood.

Severe Winter Storms

Severe winter storms bring heavy snow, ice, strong winds, and freezing rains. Winter storms can delay or prevent employees and students from reaching the university, leading to a temporary disruption of administrative functions and classes until roads and parking areas can be cleared. Heavy snow and ice can also cause structural damage or power outages.

During the winter storm season, all personnel should listen to local forecasts to determine any impact the weather may have on their schedule. The following terms are used to describe the predicted weather.

A Winter Storm Watch indicates that severe winter weather may affect the local area.

A Winter Storm Warning indicates that severe weather conditions are definitely on the way.

A Blizzard Warning means that large amounts of falling or blowing snow and sustained winds of at least 35 MPH are expected for several hours.

A Traveler's Advisory indicates that severe winter conditions may make driving difficult or dangerous.

Personnel who must remain outdoors for considerable lengths of time should do the following:

Dress warmly. Wear loose-fitting, layered, light-weight clothing. Layers can be removed to prevent perspiration and chill. Outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellant. Mittens are warmer than gloves because fingers generate warmth when they touch each other.

Stretch before you go out. If you go out to shovel snow, do a few stretching exercises to warm up your body. Also take frequent breaks.

Cover your mouth. Protect your lungs from extremely cold air by covering your mouth when outdoors. Try not to speak unless absolutely necessary.

Avoid overexertion. Cold weather puts an added strain on the heart. Be aware of symptoms of dehydration.

Keep dry
. Change wet clothing frequently to prevent loss of body heat. Wet clothing loses all of its insulation value and transmits heat rapidly.

Be aware of Frostbite and Hypothermia

Frostbite is a severe reaction to cold exposure that can permanently damage its victims. A loss of feeling and a white or pale appearance in fingers, toes, or nose and ear lobes are symptoms of frostbite.

Hypothermia is a condition brought on when the body temperature drops to less than 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Symptoms of hypothermia include uncontrollable shivering, slow speech, memory lapses, frequent stumbling, drowsiness, and exhaustion.

If frostbite or hypothermia is suspected, begin warming the person slowly and seek immediate medical assistance. Warm the person's trunk first. Use your own body heat to help. Arms and legs should be warmed last because stimulation of the limbs can drive cold blood to the heart and lead to heart failure. Put the person in dry clothing and completely wrap them with a blanket.

Never give a frostbite or hypothermia victim something with caffeine or alcohol in it. Caffeine, a stimulant, can cause the heart to beat faster and hasten the effects that the cold has on the body. Alcohol, a depressant, can slow the heart and also hasten the ill effects of cold body temperatures.

Transportation Emergencies

Plane, train, and tanker truck accidents generally are not limited to the immediate area of the incident. The secondary threat of explosion and release of toxic vapors and fumes should be anticipated and an evacuation of the affected area should be conducted with special emphasis to the area down wind from the disaster.

A train derailment involving an explosion or release of toxic gas may require immediate evacuation of the university. In this case, the immediate potential for harm will require exit from the university by foot or automobile in a direction opposite the danger source. On campus congregation points would not be used, as they are in the danger zone. It can reasonably be anticipated that there would not be sufficient time to mobilize buses and transport people off the campus using the on campus evacuation plan described above.

Generally, if there is a toxic spill and/or release of toxic gas, the safest plan of action would be to immediately move away from the area at right angles to the prevailing wind and seek an area of higher elevation.

Severe Weather/Disaster Instructions

A disaster can occur at any time, at any place. Members of the University community should take precautions to alleviate the discomforts of possible primitive living during the period after a disaster by following these steps:

1. Know the location of the nearest shelter. A list of available shelters is as follows:
Primary - Memorial Gym, on campus
Secondary - Fitness Center, on campus
Tertiary - The Hyder-Burks Agricultural Pavilion, off campus

The office of Residential Life will provide shelter for those occupants of on- campus housing that has been damaged or destroyed in the disaster.

2. Make plans to maintain family or group integrity, as much as possible.
3. Learn basic first aid techniques.
4. Have a small battery-powered radio and flashlight in case of electrical failures.
5. Keep several large plastic or glass containers of drinking water on hand.
6. Take on necessary items to the shelter. The following items are suggested:
a. Blankets
b. Warm clothing
c. Toilet articles
d. Flashlight
e. Prescribed medicine
f. Magazines and playing cards
g. Pillow
h. Plastic bags
i. Portable radio
j. Water
k. Food


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