Tornado FAQ

Q: What's the most important thing to remember when a tornado warning occurs?

A: Remain calm.

Q: What is the difference between a Tornado Watch and a Tornado Warning?

A: A Tornado Watch simply means conditions are right for tornadoes to develop. A Tornado Warning means an actual tornado has been sighted. We will issue a "Take Shelter Alert" ONLY when there is a Tornado Warning issued by AccuWeather for the immediate campus area.

Q: Should we use elevators during a tornado warning?

A: As a general rule, no. However, if it is necessary to help someone such as a wheelchair-bound individual to reach a place of safety in a timely fashion, use the elevator. But people should not crowd into an elevator when stairs are available—in case of a power outage.

Q: What should we do if there is a person with disabilities who needs assistance?

A: By all means, the professor and classmates should heed the Good Samaritan concept and help that person reach a place of safety, whether it requires lending a hand or arm or carrying him or her. If necessary, use an elevator to get that person to the recommended tornado shelter location in the building.

Q: How will I know that it's OK to go back to my office or classroom?

A: If you receive a text alert or email or have a weather alert radio or access to a TV or radio and you hear that the warning has ended. If you do not have access to those things, wait 20 minutes then use your cell or nearest office phone to call MTSU University Police at 2424 to find out if there is an "all clear."; You may need to call several times because many people may be trying to call.

Q: Are we allowed to go home during a tornado warning?

A: First, you need to check with your supervisor. In addition, if you leave campus, you do so with the understanding that you are taking personal leave—and thus, you are responsible for your own safety once off campus.

Q: Does this plan pertain to night classes?

A: Yes. For those who attend night classes or weekend events on campus, please access the university Web site and click on "Tornado Information"; under "MTSU News."; Then click on Recommended Tornado Shelter Locations; to find out where you should go for shelter in any particular building.

Q: What should we do when we have groups in our building from off campus and they are being chaperoned by MTSU students or other staff?

A: Once again, whether it's CUSTOMS, Girls State, TSSAA or any other organized event on campus, organizers should become acquainted with the Recommended Tornado Shelter Locations; in all buildings that will be used. Just access the above Web site.

Q: Where can I find the list of Recommended Tornado Shelter Locations;?

A: Click on Tornado to the left and click "Recommended Tornado Shelter Locations".

Q: If there is a tornado warning ANYWHERE in Rutherford County, is that also a tornado warning for MTSU?

A: No. MTSU now uses AccuWeather, a private weather-monitoring company that gives tornado information for the main campus and Tennessee-Miller Coliseum only.  This service has reduced the number of false alarms and the need for people to go to their safe place unnecessarily.

Q: What should we do if the designated Recommended Tornado Shelter Locations; in our building is not large enough for all the people who happen to be in that building at a given time?

A: Use your best judgment. Once the Recommended Tornado Shelter Location; is full, look for the next best shelter area away from windows and potential flying objects. Always look for interior walls and areas surrounded by steel infrastructure, such as a bathroom. (It would be wise to scout out those alternative areas right now.)

Q: Should we heed the tornado siren?

A: Yes. If you are outside, you should enter the nearest building. If you are a Building Runner and you are able to hear the siren and the voice announcing "Tornado, Seek Shelter,"; you should take action. Afterwards, if you hear the tornado siren enunciate an "All Clear,"; you may send people back to their offices and classrooms.

Q: What if we cannot hear the tornado siren?

A: , You will receive a "Take Shelter Alert"; via email, and you should take action. As far as an "All Clear,"; as a rule of thumb, wait 20 minutes, then call University Police (2424) to make sure it is alright to return to offices and classrooms. If you have a weather radio in your office, you can take your cues from that regarding a warning and an all-clear. (If you have a TV in your office, you may want to have it on during a day of severe weather.)

Q: Should I ever call 911?

A: Yes, if someone in your area is injured. If you call 911 on a campus phone, you will reach MTSU University Police. You will also reach MTSU University Police by dialing 898-2424 on either a campus or cell phone. If you call 911 on your cell phone, you will likely reach the City Police Department.

Q: Would it be OK to lock our office door during a tornado drill or actual alert?

A: Yes.

Q: Do the shuttles continue to run during a tornado warning?

A: No.

Tornado Protection (pdf)

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