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News Release

Feb. 21, 2024

Northwest encourages community to prepare for severe weather, tornado drill

Northwest Missouri State University, along with the National Weather Service, the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) and local emergency management offices, are organizing tornado drills during March in preparation for severe weather.

Be prepared when a tornado watch is issued
  • 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.
  • Check the forecast often to see if a tornado is coming. Listen to local news or a NOAA weather radio, or check official social media channels, to stay informed about tornado watches and warnings.
  • Review your options for sheltering and transportation routes. If you can’t stay at home, make plans to go to a public shelter.
  • 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.
Take cover when a tornado warning is issued
  • A tornado warning means seek shelter immediately. Take cover in a safe room, basement, storm cellar or a small interior room without windows on the lowest level of a sturdy building.
  • Immediately leave a mobile home to seek shelter in a nearby building.
  • Do not seek shelter in a cafeteria, gymnasium or other large open room because the roof might collapse.
  • If you are driving, stop and take shelter in a nearby building. Overpasses are not safe and can cause a dangerous wind tunnel effect.
  • If you are driving in a rural area, seek shelter in a roadside ditch. Be prepared to move quickly in case the ditch fills with water.
  • Protect yourself from flying debris by covering your head with your arms, a coat or a blanket.

Northwest will test its indoor emergency operations, including the Bearcat Alert texting system, during a tornado drill at 11 a.m. Wednesday, March 6. In case of actual inclement weather on the day of the scheduled drill, the tornado drill will occur at 11 a.m. Friday, March 8.

Severe weather procedures are posted prominently in campus offices and throughout each building on the Northwest campus, and they are accessible on the Crisis Manager app. The University encourages campus-wide participation in the drill.

“Preparation is key in order for us to understand the opportunities we have to improve our emergency response plans,” University Police Chief Dr. Clarence Green said. “It is not often that you have a chance to observe and critique your plans with the entire campus prior to deployment in an actual event. The University Police Department thanks the entire campus in advance for their participation and feedback.”

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

The tornado drill at Northwest will occur in alignment with a statewide drill and Missouri Severe Weather Preparedness Week, March 4-8. The annual effort by the National Weather Service, SEMA and Missouri’s local emergency managers helps Missourians prepare for dangerous tornadoes, severe storms, lightning and flooding.

In addition to severe weather preparedness tops below, Missouri’s Storm Aware 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.

Additionally, 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.

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


Dr. Mark Hornickel
Administration Building
Room 215