Operation Stormy Weather: IU to conduct tornado drills March 20

19th March 2014

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Indiana University’s Office of Emergency Management and Continuity will coordinate two university-wide tornado drills Thursday, March 20, for “Operation Stormy Weather,” as part of the state of Indiana’s Severe Weather Awareness Week March 16 to 22.

Each campus will activate its own tornado warning drills using IU-Notify, the university’s emergency notification system, between 10 and 10:30 a.m. EDT and again between 7:30 and 8 p.m. Those times will coincide with the statewide and county tornado siren drills. To mimic real-world procedures for tornado warnings, an all-clear alert also will be sent for each test.

The IU Northwest campus in Gary is on Central Daylight Time, so the IU-Notify test there will occur one hour earlier.

In the event of real severe weather conditions, the drill will be postponed until Friday, March 21, at the same times.

Test messages will be sent to IU faculty, staff and students across the state via email, text message (SMS), social media, digital signage, campus cable TV and website updates. Phone calls will not be part of this drill as past tests have shown they generally are not a timely way to alert recipients to a tornado. Test messages clearly will be marked as tests, and university Web sites will alert campus communities in advance of what to expect.

“Operation Stormy Weather” is a university campaign to raise awareness of preparedness and safety procedures for severe weather season. During spring and summer, especially, severe weather can include tornadoes, dangerous thunderstorms, damaging winds, hail, lightning and flooding.

Members of the IU community are encouraged to follow tornado procedures on campus or at home as if this were a real tornado warning by seeking shelter when the notifications are received via sirens and/or IU-Notify alerts. While several campuses are on spring break during the test, all students still will receive test notifications and are asked to consider available shelter options.

Because the tests are statewide, alerts will be broadcast on National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather radio and local media. Outdoor warning sirens and public address systems will be tested at both times.

IU community members should review severe weather communications and shelter plans for their respective buildings before the test March 20. Everyone should participate in this important preparedness drill and also consider practicing with their families at home during the evening test.

Tornados strike with little or no warning, so seconds count when seeking shelter. Knowing and practicing what to do and where to go can save lives.

What to do before the drills:

  • All members of the IU community are encouraged to follow tornado procedures as if this were a real tornado warning by seeking shelter when notification is received, whether that is via sirens or IU-Notify alerts. This includes students who may be on spring break.
  • Locate tornado-safe areas in all the buildings you typically use. They will be building-specific. Tornado shelters are indicated by a funnel cloud symbol.
  • If you have access or functional needs, please determine the best solution for your situation in order to get to an appropriate tornado-safe location.

During the drills:

  • Remain in the shelter until you or others in the location receive the IU-Notify all-clear alert.
  • When IU-Notify messages are delivered, recipients should be sure those around them are aware of the message in case they are not subscribed to IU-Notify. They should check to see whether anyone in their vicinity needs assistance in following severe weather procedure.
  • Be certain that those people from other countries — who may be used to a siren signaling a tsunami — know what the siren means in the United States.
  • Please note the time you receive the alerts from IU-Notify, including whether you saw them on digital signs or campus websites. Your feedback is important and helps the university better protect you should the system need to be activated in an emergency. You will have the opportunity to share your feedback through a short survey linked to the IU-Notify test email.

Lab procedures:

  • If you’re working in a lab or conducting another critical function that cannot be interrupted (i.e., dentistry procedure) and can’t seek shelter during this drill, the people who cannot seek shelter should take a few minutes to review building procedures. Know where you would have gone to seek shelter, and discuss those procedures with anyone else in the vicinity. However, if this were a real tornado warning, you would be expected to proceed to a designated tornado shelter location.
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