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Northwest Missouri State University

News Release

March 8, 2012

Northwest to participate in statewide tornado drill Tuesday

Helpful tips: 

  • Tornado Watch means tornadoes are possible. Remain alert for approaching storms. Watch the sky and stay tuned to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information.
  • Tornado Warning means a tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. Take shelter immediately.
  • An interior room without windows on the lowest floor is the safest shelter location.
  • Do not seek shelter in a cafeteria, gymnasium or other large open room because the roof might collapse.
  • Immediately leave a mobile home to seek shelter in a nearby building.
  • If you are driving, you should stop and take shelter in a nearby building.
  • Overpasses are not safe. An overpass' under-the-girder-type construction can cause a dangerous wind tunnel effect. In some cases bridges have collapsed, killing and injuring those who are seeking shelter underneath them.
  • If you are driving in a rural area and spot a tornado, driving away from the tornado's path may be the safest option if the tornado is far away. If the tornado is bearing down on you, stop your vehicle off the traveled section of the roadway and seek a sturdy shelter or lie flat in a ditch or other low spot. If you are outside, cover your head with your arms, a coat or blanket to protect yourself from flying debris. Be prepared to move quickly in case the ditch fills with water. Also, remember that stopping near the roadway increases the chance of being struck by other motorists-so be alert and exercise caution.

Northwest Missouri State University, along with the National Weather Service, the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) and local emergency management offices will participate in the 38th annual statewide tornado drill at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 13, as part of Missouri Severe Weather Awareness Week, March 12-16.

“I strongly encourage the entire Northwest community to participate in the annual Missouri statewide tornado drill because it reminds us to plan for weather emergencies,” Dr. Gerald Wilmes, Northwest’s emergency management coordinator, said. “The series of deadly tornadoes in 2011 and during the last couple weeks highlight the importance of knowing and practicing appropriate emergency response procedures.”

When Northwest students and employees hear broadcast drill messages or outdoor warning sirens, they should practice seeking shelter. The safest shelter location is an interior room without windows in the lowest level of a building.

Severe weather procedures are posted prominently in campus offices and throughout each building on the Northwest campus.

The statewide drill is expected to last about 15 minutes. The Bearcat Alert text system also will be tested.

If there is a threat of severe weather in any part of Missouri March 13, the drill will be postponed until 1:30 p.m. Thursday, March 15.

According to the National Climatic Data Center, Missouri averages 45 tornadoes each year. The state witnessed one of the deadliest tornadoes on record May 22, 2011, when a tornado struck Joplin, causing 161 deaths, injuring more than 1,000 people and damaging or destroying more than 8,000 homes and businesses. Just last week, a tornado traveled through Branson, injuring more than 30 people and damaging dozens of buildings.

“In the past year, including last week, Missouri communities have experienced the devastation that tornadoes can cause,” SEMA Director Paul Parmenter said. “The statewide tornado drill is an excellent opportunity for all of us to practice seeking shelter in case of a severe weather emergency.”

To help individuals prepare for severe weather, the National Weather Service has established a Severe Weather Awareness Week Web site with statistics and details about preparedness, tornado safety, flash flood safety, severe thunderstorms and NOAA weather radio.

For more information, please contact:

Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager | 660.562.1704 | Fax: 660.562.1900

Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468