National Severe Weather Preparedness Week Information

March 6, 2013

It is National Severe Weather Preparedness Week! Every year, thousands of people are impacted by severe weather threats such as tornadoes and severe thunderstorms. Preliminary data for 2012 shows there were more than 450 weather-related fatalities and nearly 2,600 injuries (www.ready.gov). The primary tornado season in Texas is from March through June, but tornadoes can occur in any month of the year. Tornadoes often form in the southwest part of thunderstorms - next to the part of the storm where heavy rain or hail is falling.

Severe weather in the form of thunderstorms, damaging hail, high winds and tornadoes are a threat to the Baylor community. The City of Waco and Baylor University maintains several warning and alert systems for use in the event major storms or other disasters threaten our community. Ideally, sufficient warning time will allow precautionary measures to be implemented. The unpredictability of weather conditions, however, does not always provide for adequate warning.

There are four severe weather hazard announcements that are issued by the National Weather Service. These announcements and their definitions are:

  • Severe Thunderstorm Watch - A potentially severe thunderstorms are expected. A severe thunderstorm contains either damaging winds (surface gusts greater than 75 mph) or hail stones at least 3/4 inch in diameter, or both.
  • Severe Thunderstorm Warning - A severe thunderstorm has actually been sighted or is indicated by radar.
  • Tornado Watch - A weather conditions are favorable for tornado development in this area. Specific time frames for the watch will be announced by the National Weather Service. Members of the Baylor Community are encouraged to monitor weather conditions by monitoring local radio/television stations.
  • Tornado Warning - A tornado has been sighted in the area or is indicated by radar.

Baylor University Warning Systems, BaylorAlert!

  • Outdoor sirens operated by McLennan County Emergency Management
  • Baylor University Outdoor Notification System
  • Baylor Indoor Notification System
  • Weather radio and designated staff alerting building occupants
  • Email, phone and text messaging** may be used
  • www.twitter.com/bayloralert

    (you may also text 'follow bayloralert' to 40404, to receive text messages from www.twitter.com/bayloralert.

**To confirm your phone/text messaging information is correct, login to BearWeb, and under 'Personal Information', click 'View/Update BaylorAlert Cell Phone Information'. **

Individuals with mobility/impairments or physical disabilities:

Supervisory personnel and faculty/teaching assistants should identify and escort individuals with mobility impairments or physical disabilities located in their offices/facilities or classrooms to safety in the event of a tornado warning. The elevators may be used to transport individuals with mobility impairments or physical disabilities and their escorts to a safer location. Visually impaired and hearing impaired individuals may be escorted down the stairs, but may require assistance in moving in crowded staircases and in finding a safer location. In the event of a power failure, individuals who are unable to use the stairs and their escorts should move to an interior location without windows.

Action Steps

  • Residence Halls: In the event of a tornado warning, the hall directors will direct students to either basements or inner hallways on the lowest floor of the building. Doors to the individual's rooms should be closed.
  • All other buildings on campus: In the event of a tornado warning and you are inside any building on campus, move to the lowest floor available within the facility or inner hallway and avoid all windows.
  • If you are outside, move away from the tornado's path at a right angle. Find shelter in a building, stairwell or culvert.

When It's Safe To Come Out

Once the threat has passed, radio and television stations will be one of the best sources to determine when the danger has passed. Baylor Officials will also announce the "all clear" by way of the university warning systems. Please do not call the Baylor Police Department during a weather emergency for updates, as they will be working to monitor conditions and ensure your safety.

In the end it falls to each of us to be informed of weather conditions and to devise a plan of action before it is needed. Take time to learn some of the safer locations in your building in the event a need should arise. More information on preparing for severe weather is available at www.baylor.edu/emergency, www.weather.gov and www.ready.gov/severe-weather. For questions or concerns regarding severe weather conditions at Baylor University, please contact the Department of Risk Management at 254-710-4586.