Tornado Awareness - Being Prepared!

Tornado Awareness

Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Being Prepared!

Creighton University will participate in its annual tornado drill on Wednesday, March 24. On that date the University will focus its attention on campus tornado safety procedures and will test CUAlert, the University's emergency notification system. This event coincides with Douglas County's annual day to test sirens and to raise the community’s awareness for tornado preparedness.

What’s Happening on March 24?

  • The National Weather Service will issue a simulated TORNADO WATCH at approximately 9:50 a.m. A watch is in effect when the National Weather Service reports that conditions are such that a tornado could develop.
  • The National Weather Service will then issue a simulated TORNADO WARNING at approximately 10:10 a.m. A warning is in effect when a tornado has been sighted or detected by radar.
  • When the simulated tornado warning test has been issued, Douglas County's Emergency Management Agency will activate civil defense sirens to test their operability.
  • It is important to note that warning sirens are only intended to be heard outdoors, not inside a building. Consequently, it is important to have someone in each department or area monitoring the radio, television, or weather alert radio when severe weather is pending.
  • Creighton University will conduct a tornado drill coinciding with the activation of the county’s civil defense sirens. Public Safety will issue a CUAlert and students, faculty and staff are expected to take shelter in designated areas. (Note: The CUAlert system is automated and will be issued at 10 :10 a.m. even if the sirens are delayed)

Your Role During the Drill

  • Participating in the drill will help you know what to do in the event of a real tornado warning. Our goal is to have everyone respond to the drill and assemble at designated shelter areas by 10:20 a.m.


  • Review what to do in the event of a tornado warning using the information presented here.
  • Sign up for CUAlert and encourage your students to do so as well.
  • If you are teaching at the time the warning is issued, explain to students what is happening and lead them to the appropriate shelter areas.


  • Familiarize yourself on what to do if a tornado happens using the information presented here.
  • Sign up for CUAlert and encourage others to do so as well.
  • If you work in an area where students reside or are gathered, lead them to the shelter area.
  • If you are in your offices or at other locations on campus, let your colleagues and visitors know about the drill and seek shelter.


  • Follow faculty and staff guidance or proceed to the closest designated shelter.
  • Sign up for CUAlert and encourage others to do so as well. Assist individuals who may need help in reaching shelter areas. Once you have reached a shelter area, you have completed the drill and may resume campus activities.

Campus Emergency Procedures for Tornadoes

  • Tornadoes can happen any time, day or night, and it is important to know what your role and responsibilities are in this situation.
  • When a tornado watch is issued, Public Safety will initiate a calling tree so the schools/colleges, departments and support areas are aware that weather conditions are such that a tornado could develop. Indoors, radios and televisions should be monitored for further developments. Outdoors, people should be alert for emergency sirens.
  • When a tornado warning is issued, civil defense sirens will sound. Classes and other activity will be interrupted and everyone will be expected to seek shelter in the nearest designated shelter area until an all-clear has been issued on the radio or television.
  • NOTE: Public Safety will send out a CUAlert when TORNADO WARNINGS are issued, but this process is neither instantaneous nor foolproof. Rely primarily on the civil defense sirens, radio, and television for timely and accurate information.

During a Tornado Warning

  • Interrupt class, meetings or other activities.
  • Direct students, staff and visitors to the nearest designated shelter area. The following link provides a list of shelter areas by building
  • Remain in the shelter area until an all-clear has been issued on the radio or television.
  • If you are outdoors, go indoors to the lowest level of a building.
  • If you are outdoors and unable to seek shelter, lie flat in a ditch or low spot and cover your head with your hands.

Important Preparations for a Tornado Emergency

  • Sign up for CUAlert at (Be sure you are receiving notifications via text messaging, voice and e-mail.)
  • Know the designated shelter areas for the buildings you frequent. Visit for a list of tornado shelters.
  • Have a portable radio and flashlight on hand (storms are often accompanied by power outages).
  • Familiarize yourself with the University’s Emergency Preparedness website at

Tornado Facts*

Some students are not from the Midwest and may not be familiar with tornadoes. Here are some interesting facts.

  • In an average year, 1,200 tornadoes cause 70 fatalities, and 1,500 injuries nationwide.
  • Tornadoes may appear nearly transparent until they pick up dust and debris.
  • Most move from the southwest to the northeast, but they can move in any direction.
  • The average forward speed is 30 m.p.h. but they can reach 70 m.p.h.
  • They can be one-mile wide and stay on the ground for 50 miles.
  • They can happen at any time of the day or night but are most likely to occur between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m.

*American Red Cross statistics . . . additional statistical information is available at