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News Release

March 2, 2018

Northwest to participate in statewide tornado drill Tuesday, encourages severe weather preparedness

Be prepared.

Missouri and Northwest safety experts offer these helpful tips for staying safe during severe weather.

  • A tornado watch means conditions are favorable for severe weather to develop.  Pay attention to changing weather and plan your activities with that in mind.
  • A tornado warning means seek shelter immediately.
  • In areas where a tornado shelter does not exist, an interior room without windows on the lowest floor of a building is the safest location to go.
  • 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. 
  • Overpasses are not safe. An overpass’ under-the-girder-type construction can cause a dangerous wind tunnel effect.
  • If you are driving, you should stop and take shelter in a nearby building.
  • If you are driving in a rural area, seek shelter in a roadside ditch. Protect yourself from flying debris by covering your head with your arms, a coat or a blanket. Be prepared to move quickly in case the ditch fills with water
  • Never drive into standing water. It can take less than six inches of fast moving water to make a slow moving car float. Once floating, a vehicle can overturn and sink.  

For more information about how to better prepare for severe weather on the Northwest campus, contact the University Police Department at 660.562.1254 or, or visit

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 annual statewide tornado drill at 10 a.m. Tuesday, March 6, as part of Missouri Severe Weather Awareness Week, March 4-10.

“I think it’s important for people to be reminded that this time of year, as the weather starts warming up, the potential for severe weather heightens,” Mike Ceperley, Northwest’s emergency management coordinator, said. “Severe weather has a huge impact in our part of the region, from severe thunderstorms, flooding, lightning and tornadoes.”

Northwest encourages campus-wide participation in the drill, however, it is not mandatory.  Instructors are encouraged to take a few minutes during their classes to discuss preparedness and shelter locations in their buildings. The statewide drill is expected to last about 15 minutes.

When Northwest students and employees hear broadcast drill messages or outdoor warning sirens, they should practice seeking shelter. In areas where a tornado shelter does not exist, the safest shelter location is an interior room without windows in the lowest level of a building.

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

“Students and staff should treat the drill as if it were an actual tornado warning,” Ceperley said. “The purpose of the drill is to test everyone's readiness for life-threatening severe weather events such as tornadoes, flash floods, and damaging winds.”

In addition to the statewide drill, Northwest tests its warning system at 11 a.m. each Wednesday, weather permitting. Any deployment of the warning system outside of that time should be considered an actual emergency and immediate action should be taken. 

“Although there is an outdoor warning siren located on campus, outdoor warning sirens are not meant to be heard indoors,” Ceperley said. “It’s always a good idea to have alerts from the National Weather Service activated on your phone or have a weather radio handy if severe weather is in your area.”

Severe Weather Awareness Week is an annual effort by the National Weather Service, SEMA and Missouri’s local emergency managers to help Missourians prepare for dangerous tornadoes, severe storms, lightning and flooding. The year of 2015 was an especially deadly one for flash flooding in Missouri with 27 flooding deaths reported by the National Weather Service, and 23 of the people killed had been in vehicles.

Ceperley noted Missouri recorded 102 tornados in the state last year, resulting in one death and 32 injuries. Missouri accounts for six of the 25 deadliest tornados in United States history.

“It’s important to start planning ahead now,” he said. “Know how you are going to receive alerts, know where to go for more information and most of all, identify storm shelters in the places you frequent the most.”

Missouri’s website includes detailed videos showing how to take shelter in specific types of buildings – such as houses with and without basements, mobile homes and schools – as well as important information about tornado sirens and weather alert radios. The site also includes links to free severe weather texting services that can alert people across Missouri to upcoming severe weather.


Dr. Mark Hornickel
Administration Building
Room 215