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Learn what to do when severe weather warnings are issued

(Editor's note: This was originally published in 2011. It's spring again in North Texas and weather can become unsettled at any time. Be sure you are signed up for the City of Denton weather alerts; see information below.)

April 29, 2011

To: UNT community

From: UNT Risk Management

Dear UNT community,

As indicated by the recent wind, rain and hail, severe weather season is well underway. UNT and the City of Denton have plans and systems in place to help ensure the safety of the campus community and it is important for you to understand how to use these resources so you can be ready when the next round of severe weather occurs.

The City of Denton has positioned 16 outdoor warning sirens around the city, three of which are located on the UNT campus. The purpose of these sirens is to alert you of approaching or existing hazardous conditions so you may take immediate protective actions. Because there are a variety of conditions that can be indicative of an approaching tornado, the City of Denton activates the outdoor warning sirens if any of the following conditions exist:

  • The National Weather Service has issued a tornado warning for Denton County.
  • Tornadic activity, such as cloud rotation and lowering, is spotted by trained storm spotters.
  • Winds in excess of 73 miles per hour.
  • Hail in excess of 2 inches.

Due to ever changing conditions of severe weather, information regarding an all clear is not always available. Watches and Warnings issued by the National Weather Service typically have an expiration time. This, along with the latest information provided by KNTU  88.1 and other news outlets, provides indicators that sheltering in place can cease.

Additionally, the City of Denton offers a severe weather mass notification service for residents, businesses and schools. The CodeRED Weather Warning system will automatically call registered users when severe weather warnings (e.g., tornado, flash flood, severe thunderstorm, etc.) are issued by the National Weather Service. 

Departments are also encouraged to purchase a NOAA weather radio, which provides an alert when the National Weather Service broadcasts emergency weather information, such as a tornado warning.

While UNT also uses a mass notification system which we all know as Eagle Alert, it is unlikely that UNT will activate this system during a severe weather event. The tools mentioned above are directly tied to National Weather Service information and triggers. Eagle Alert is not tied to this information, and requires manual activation by UNT personnel.

With the exception of scheduled tests, which occur on the first Wednesday of every month at noon, you should immediately take the following actions anytime the outdoor warning sirens are activated:

  • If you are outdoors, go indoors.
  • Seek shelter on the lowest floor of a building in a windowless interior room or hallway.
  • If you are unable to reach a designated shelter location, seek an alternative safe location in that building that meets the characteristics mentioned above.
  • Remain at the shelter area until the National Weather Service warning expires.
  • Tune in to KNTU-FM 88.1 for emergency public information.

UNT has identified shelter-in-place locations for each building and residence hall on campus using standard guidance provided by the National Weather Service. However, it should be noted that these pre-identified shelter areas merely represent the safest area in the building in which to shelter during severe weather and may not include space for every building occupant. 

The unique design characteristics of some buildings on campus make it impossible to identify shelter space for every occupant that may be in the building at any given moment. Therefore, exercise prudence during any severe weather event by at a minimum attempting to follow the above guidance.

  • Visit the emergency.unt.edu to view shelter-in-place maps for campus facilities and to learn more campus preparedness efforts.
  • Learn about the Safety Coordinator program, which educates faculty and staff about the appropriate actions to take during emergency situations.

Below, the oldest known photo of a tornado, taken by an anonymous photographer in South Dakota in 1884. (Courtesy of NOAA)

Tornado_oldest known photo_1884 

Posted on: Tue 03 April 2012

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