Special Hazards

Tornado Information

Although tornadoes occur in many parts of the world, they are found most frequently in the United States. In an average year, 1,200 tornadoes cause 60-65 fatalities and 1,500 injuries nationwide.

Tornado Facts

  • A tornado is a violently rotating column of air extending from a cumuliform cloud, such as a thunderstorm, to the ground.
  • Tornadoes may appear nearly transparent until dust and debris are picked up or a cloud forms within the funnel. The average tornado moves from southwest to northeast, but tornadoes can move in any direction and can suddenly change their direction of motion.
  • The average forward speed of a tornado is 30 mph but may vary from nearly stationary to 70 mph.
  • The strongest tornadoes have rotating winds of more than 200 mph.
  • Tornadoes can accompany tropical storms and hurricanes as they move onto land.
  • Waterspouts are tornadoes that form over warm water. Waterspouts can move onshore and cause damage to coastal areas.

You can find more information on tornadoes at www.spc.noaa.gov.  For a PDF copy of the National Weather Service’s Tornado and Severe Weather Preparedness Guide, click here.

Preparedness Tips

If you are on campus and hear the Campus Alert System and/or receive a HOYAlert instructing you to shelter-in-place, immediately move inside to the closest building and go to the designated shelter-in-place location.  These locations are typically interior rooms on each floor that have no exterior windows or doors.  Building & Floor Marshals will direct building occupants to the shelter-in-place locations.

If you are caught outdoors, seek shelter in a basement, shelter or sturdy building. If you cannot quickly walk to a shelter:

  • Immediately get into a vehicle, buckle your seat belt and try to drive to the closest sturdy shelter.
  • If flying debris occurs while you are driving, pull over and park. Now you have the following options as a last resort:
    • Stay in your vehicle with the seat belt on. Put your head down below the windows, covering with your hands and a blanket if possible.
    • If you can safely get noticeably lower than the level of the roadway, exit your car, and lie in that area, covering your head with your hands.

Your choice should be driven by your specific circumstances.