A tornado is defined as a violent rotating column of air extending from a thunderstorm to the ground. The most violent tornadoes are capable of tremendous destruction with wind speeds of 250 mph or more. Damage paths can be in excess of one mile wide and 50 miles long. Tornadoes may occur with little or no advance warning or siren activation.

Before the Storm

  • Locate a basement or corridor shelter location in your building.
  • Stay informed through local media sources on days when severe weather is expected.
  • Obtain a NOAA Weather Radio with a warning alarm tone and battery backup to receive warnings.
  • Keep a good reliable flashlight in your office/work area.

During the Storm – Possible Indicators of a Tornado

  • Dark, often greenish sky.
  • Large hail.
  • Loud roar, similar to a train.
  • Cloud of debris (the tornado may not be visible).
  • Wind suddenly becomes calm and still.
  • Frequent lightning.
  • Tornadoes generally occur near the trailing edge of a storm.

When Taking Shelter

  1. Vacate upper floors and move to a lower floor or to the basement of any building that has a basement. (Safe locations have been posted in every building on campus) Position yourself in the safest portion of the area away from glass. Be prepared to kneel facing a wall and cover your head.
  2. Occupants of wood-frame or brick buildings with wood floors should leave the building and go directly to a more substantial concrete building, preferably with a basement.


    A “Tornado Watch” is issued when atmospheric conditions are favorable for the formation of tornadoes in a given area.

Under watch conditions stay informed by listening to radio or television.


    A “Tornado Warning” indicates that a tornado is imminent and poses a definite threat to a given area.

If the warning is for your area you should take shelter immediately!


  • Outdoor sirens will sound for a period in excess of two minutes. When this occurs, tune into local radio and TV stations to determine the nature of the emergency.
  • A voice message will be broadcast over local radio and television stations.
  • The ALL CLEAR signal is announced by radio and television stations. The sirens remain silent.


      UCA’s outdoor warning sirens are tested at 11:50 a.m. on the first Wednesday of every month except during periods of adverse weather conditions.