Tornado Procedures

Tornadoes usually occur in the spring and summer; they are formed by severe thunderstorms. Considered nature's most violent, erratic storm, they consist of whirling winds of up to 300 miles per hour. Tornadoes can sweep through an area, causing serious damage and destruction, and then change direction and strike again. In addition to injuries and structural damage, electrical shorts and gas leaks, etc., may create fires or other hazards. 

Tornado Watch

A tornado watch occurs when weather conditions are considered favorable for creating a tornado - for example, during a severe thunderstorm.

When a tornado watch is issued by the National Weather Service a notification will be issued by the college's emergency notification system with information about the watch and any precautions recommended.

  • Any time a tornado watch is issued, keep an eye to the sky and pay attention to sources of weather information. Even thunderstorms not yielding tornadoes can produce dangerous wind and lightning.

Sample Tornado Watch Notification

The National Weather Service has issued a Tornado Watch for the Western Massachusetts Area (or Hampshire County) until (time). followed by any recommendations.

Tornado Warning

A tornado warning occurs when a tornado funnel has been sighted or identified by radar in the area. Take shelter immediately. Remember that tornadoes can form and move quickly; therefore, there may not be adequate time to issue a warning. If severe thunderstorms occur, be alert to the fact that a thunderstorm could trigger a tornado, and be prepared.

When a tornado warning is issued by the National Weather Service, a community notification will be issued which will include instructions, generally to move indoors and to a lower level in a building away from windows.

Faculty members/supervisory personnel should:

  • Direct occupants to proceed in a quick and orderly manner to the nearest designated shelter area in the building.
  • Instruct occupants not to leave the building.
  • Turn off all lights and electronic equipment in the room.
  • Provide assistance to persons with disabilities.
  • Accompany occupants to the lower levels of the building away from windows.

Occupants should:

  • Proceed to the lowest level in the building away from windows.
  • Move quickly but in an orderly manner so that all may arrive safely.
  • Take a seat in the shelter area.
  • Residence hall residents will follow the specific residence hall guidelines for a tornado warning.
  • Persons with a weather alert radio will monitor for an "all clear."

Areas and Places to Avoid During a Tornado

  • All outside walls, elevators, and windows of buildings.
  • Any low-lying area that could flood.
  • Vehicles---do not use for shelter.
  • Building areas with a large roof span.

Remain sheltered until the tornado warning is over. Campus officials will advise when it is safe to resume normal activities.

Sample Tornado Warning Notification

The National Weather Service has issued a Tornado Watch for the Western Massachusetts Area (or Hampshire County) until (time). Seek shelter now inside a sturdy structure and stay away from windows.