08:05 AM

Ohio State prepares for severe weather with statewide tornado drill

Tornado sirens sounded across the Columbus and regional campuses of The Ohio State University this morning as a reminder of the state’s Severe Weather Awareness Week.

The annual statewide tornado drill is part of the effort to encourage Ohioans to learn what to do to protect themselves from spring and summer weather hazards, including home emergencies. That includes the campus community.

“The safety of our campus community is our No. 1 priority,” said Robert Armstrong, director of Emergency Management & Fire Prevention in the Department of Public Safety. “If a tornado is reported by the National Weather Service, automatic Buckeye Alert text messages will be sent to the impacted campus community.”

The university encourages all students, faculty and staff to ensure they are signed up to receive Buckeye Alerts.

In 2015, Ohio State became the fourth university in Ohio and one of the largest universities in the country to be recognized as a StormReady university by the National Weather Service.

A StormReady organization must maintain a 24-hour warning point and emergency operations center; monitor local weather and flood conditions; conduct community preparedness programs; and ensure hazardous weather and flooding are addressed in formal emergency management plans.

The Department of Public Safety utilizes automated messaging in the form of text alerts, social media, campus screen and audio messages, and conventional media to warn students, faculty and staff of hazardous weather. Members of the university community can follow emergency.osu.edu or @OSU_EMFP on Twitter for updates.

In addition, the Office of Student Life requires that all large organized meetings on campus have a weather safety plan for monitoring and evacuation prior to meeting.

Emergency Management works closely with Franklin County Emergency Management and Ohio Emergency Management Agency on safety drills and exercises, as well as collaborative resources, all with the goal of weather safety for Ohio State’s students, faculty and staff.

”They say if you don’t like the Ohio weather, wait a few minutes and it will change,” said Armstrong. “While that’s a funny quote, it can turn serious in a hurry and we want to ensure our campus community is prepared should severe weather strike.”

Armstrong has built a website where people can monitor the current conditions on campus. The site includes a live weather camera, updated weather conditions and current forecasts.

What Can Ohioans Do During Severe Weather Awareness Week?

  • Prepare for Weather and Home Emergencies. Homes, schools and businesses should update their safety/communications plans. Practice tornado and fire drills. Replenish supplies in emergency kits. Be informed – know the risks about the different disasters and hazards that can affect families where they live, work and go to school. Include children in emergency planning.
  • Know Ohio’s Weather Hazards. Ohio’s spring and summer weather hazards include tornadoes, thunderstorms, floods and even snowstorms through early spring. Visit the OCSWA website, weathersafety.ohio.gov, to view current Ohio weather and to review severe weather safety and preparedness information.
  • Know the Difference between Storm Watches and Warnings. Ensure that everyone knows the difference between a Tornado Watch and a Tornado Warning. A watch means conditions are favorable for the development of tornadoes. A warning is issued when a tornado is imminent or occurring. If a tornado warning is issued for your area, do not stop to take photos or shoot video. Seek safe shelter immediately. More information: OCSWA Spring & Summer Weather Terms