Severe Weather and Tornadoes

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"MUST KNOW" EMERGENCY INFO

When the University issues an emergency alert in response to a hazard, threat, or actual incident, everyone must know what the emergency conditions mean and basic emergency responses.

Please cick here for the "Must Know Emergency Information" for details on the campus conditions and basic emergency responses such as lockdown or shelter in place.

Severe Weather and Tornadoes

Severe weather is possible throughout the year in North Carolina.  For this reason, it is important to always be prepared.  While severe weather is possible during the entire year in North Carolina, peak season is generally considered to be during the spring (March through May).   Another peak can occur in the fall.

Knowing what to do when severe weather occurs could mean the difference between life and death.  When a severe weather warning is issued, you may have only a few critical moments to make some crucial decisions.  Understanding basic safety steps to follow, along with taking time now to prepare could help reduce the chances of injury or death for you and your family.   _____________________________________________

Know the Difference – Watches vs Warnings:

  • Watch – Means the potential exist for severe weather to develop.  A watch may include a severe thunderstorm watch or a tornado watch.  When a severe weather watch is issued, you should take the time to make sure you are prepared.  Be aware of rapidly changing conditions, and be ready to take immediate action.  Monitor local media outlets for up-to-date weather information.  Review where you will go should in the event a severe storm approaches.  

  • Warning – Means severe weather is occurring or is indicated on radar.    A warning may include a severe thunderstorm warning or a tornado warning.  During a warning, you should take evasive action.  Remain in shelter until the danger has passed and the warning has expired.  Monitor local media outlets for up-to-date weather information.

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Severe Weather

Did you know that North Carolina is one of the leading states for lightning related injuries in the United States?  Severe weather is possible throughout the year in North Carolina, and it is important to be prepared when it occurs.  While the potential exist throughout the year, severe weather is most common during the spring.    

Knowing what to do when severe weather occurs could mean the difference between life and death.  When a severe thunderstorm warning is issued, you may have only a few minutes to make the right decisions.  Understanding the basics of severe weather safety and preparing now could help reduce the chances of injury or death for you and your family.  

What to Do during Severe Weather:

At Home:

Go inside of a permanent structure.

  • Locate an interior room, away from windows.

  • Avoid open areas such as porches.  Lighting can still reach you!

  • Do not use corded phones.

  • Avoid plumbing.  Do not do things such as washing hands, taking a shower, etc…

  • Stay off items that are directly connected to electricity (stoves, computers, etc…).

  • Remain inside until the storm has passed (see below for more information).

  • If you cannot find a permanent structure, you can take shelter inside of a fully enclosed vehicle (excluding convertibles).  Be cautious not to use radio equipment/electronic devices.  

  • If you cannot locate a safe area or are too far from a vehicle/structure, remember to avoid tall objects, isolated trees, water, wet items, metal objects, open fields, and the tops of hills/ridges.

At Work/School:

Go inside of a permanent structure.

  • During high winds or tornadoes, avoid large open spaces such as gyms and auditoriums.

  • Stay off of electrical equipment that may be directly connected to electricity (computers, corded phones, etc…)

  • Avoid plumbing.  Do not do things such as washing hands, taking a shower, etc…

  • If necessary, look for Severe Weather Shelter Areas (designated in select facilities).

  • Remain inside until the storm has passed.

  • If you cannot find a permanent structure, you can take shelter inside of a fully enclosed vehicle (excluding convertibles).  Be cautious not to use radio equipment/electronic devices


How You Can Prepare for Severe Weather Now:

Make a Plan

Severe storms can bring a variety of hazards including deadly lightning, hail, heavy rain and damaging winds.  Whether you are at home or work/school, you should have a plan in place outlining what you will do during severe weather, or any emergency.

Identify shelter areas in your home and office.  Remember to look for the green Severe Weather Shelter Area signs on campus.  During severe weather, especially during lightning storms, it is important to take shelter in safe, permanent structure with plumbing and electricity.   This will help protect you from lightning strikes.

A safe building (structure) is one that is fully enclosed with a roof, walls and floor, and has plumbing or wiring. Examples may include a home, school, church, hotel, office building, or shopping center. If no safe building is near, a safe vehicle may serve as a substitute. A safe vehicle is any fully enclosed metal-topped vehicle.

Unsafe buildings include car ports, open garages, covered patios, picnic shelters, beach pavilions, golf shelters, tents of any kind, baseball dugouts, sheds, and greenhouses. Unsafe vehicles include convertibles, golf carts, riding mowers, open cab construction equipment, boats without cabins, and other similar vehicles.

Remember the 30/30 Rule

Take shelter if you cannot count to 30 between the flash of lightning and the clap of thunder, and remain indoors for at least 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder is heard.

Lightning: Remember, there is NO safe place outside during lightning.  Porches, parking decks, trees and related structures do not offer any protection.  A common myth is that the rubber soles of your shoes or rubber tires protect you from lightning.  This is false, as it is the metal frame a fully enclosed (hard topped) vehicle or the shell of a permanent, enclosed structure that provides protection.  Visit http://www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov/ for more on lightning safety.

Build a Kit

Have an emergency kit for home and work that contains the essential items you may need following a disaster.  Visit the American Red Cross for more information on how to build a kit for you and your family.  Remember, you may be on your own for several hours or several days.

Get Informed

Make sure you know how and when you will be alerted to emergencies both on campus and off campus.   Get a NOAA Weather Alert Radio.  This will alert you to severe weather watches and warnings impacting your area.  Register for University emergency notification systems, such as text messaging.  Also keep a battery powered radio with you at home and work.  This will allow you to access up-to-date weather information if the power is lost.

Be sure to watch the weather forecast and plan accordingly. If thunderstorms are likely to occur, consider postponing outdoor activities.
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What to do during a Tornado:

While rare in the mountains, tornadoes are possible.  If you receive a message about a possible tornado, it is important to react quickly. Do not wait until you see the tornado to react, as it may be too late.

At Home:

  • Go to an interior room, away from windows.

  • Go to the lowest level possible.

  • Do not open or close windows.

  • Crouch on the floor, and cover your head as much as possible.

  • Use sturdy furniture, such as flipping over a couch, for protection.

  • Use blankets, jackets, and other similar items to help cover and protect your head.

At Work/School:

  • Go to lowest level possible, and find an interior room or hallway without windows.

  • Avoid large open spaces such as gymnasiums, auditoriums and other similar rooms.

  • Crouch on the floor, and protect your head.

  • Use sturdy furniture, such as crouching under a sturdy desk, for additional protection.

  • Use blankets, jackets, and other similar items to help cover and protect your head.

  • Look for Severe Weather Shelter Areas (designated in select facilities).

 

 


How you can prepare for a Tornado:

Make a Plan

Whether you are at home or work/school, you should have a plan in place outlining what you will do during a tornado, or any emergency.  Identify shelter areas in your home and your office.  While on campus, look for the green Severe Weather Shelter Area signs.  Some areas may include a basement, underneath interior stairs, and interior closets.  Remember to choose interior locations on the lowest level possible, away from windows.  Avoid large open spaces such as auditoriums, gyms, and other rooms with large, open roof spans.   

At home, know where and how to shut your utilities off (ie: gas, water and electric shut offs).  This may be important to know to prevent damaged and/or leaking /exposed utilities from creating more significant damage.

Know how you and your family will communicate after tornado.  Remember that phone lines may be down or busy after an emergency.  Consider designating a friend or relative outside of your community to call after an emergency to report your location and condition, or to find out information on your family.    

Build a Kit

Have an emergency kit for home and work that contains the essential items you may need following a disaster.  Visit the American Red Cross for more information on how to build a kit for you and your family.  Remember, you may be on your own for several hours or several days.

Get Informed 

Make sure you know how and when you will be alerted to emergencies both on campus and off campus.   Get a NOAA Weather Alert Radio.  This will alert you to tornado watches and warnings impacting your area.  Register for University emergency notification systems, such as text messaging.  Also keep a battery powered radio with you at home and work.  This will allow you to access up-to-date weather information if the power is lost.

Are you insured?  - Make sure you have insurance to cover property damage.  For example, if you rent an apartment or a house, you should have renters insurance.  Visit http://www.ncdoi.com/ for more information.

For more information on severe weather preparedness, contact the following:

On-campus:

  • Environmental Health, Safety, and Emergency Management: 828-262-8000

Off-campus:

  • Your local emergency management agency

  • The American Red Cross

In the event of any emergency, know whom to call:

  • On-Campus: Contact Campus Police – 828.262.8000 or 911

  • Off-Campus: Contact 911


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