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Environmental Safety Office: Severe Weather

Severe Weather

In the Texas Panhandle, April, May, and June are some of the worst months for thunderstorms, hailstorms, and tornadoes. Tornadoes can occur at any time during the year, day or night, and at any hour.  The most violent tornadoes are capable of tremendous destruction with wind speeds of 250 mph or more.

A “Watch” is issued by the National Weather Service when severe thunderstorms and/or tornadoes are likely to occur.  During a “Tornado Watch”, everyone in or near the “Watch” area should be alert for signs of threatening weather and make preliminary plans for action.

A “Warning” is issued when severe thunderstorms and/or tornadoes have been sighted or indicated by weather radar.  Even with advances in meteorology, warning times may be short or sometimes not possible.  When a tornado threatens, individuals need to have a safe place to go and time to get there.

Develop a plan to know where to take shelter at home, work, or school.  Stay tuned to weather broadcasts for the most up-to-date information, preferably with a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) radio with battery back-up. For additional campus information, be sure to check the WT Weather line (#806-651-2010) and sign-up for the campus emergency alert system Buff-Alert (apps.wtamu.edu/buffalert/).

Some tornadoes are clearly visible while others are obscured by rain or low-hanging clouds. Tornadoes generally occur near the trailing edge of a thunderstorm. Additional dangers can accompany thunderstorms including: flash flooding, cloud-to-ground lightning, damaging straight-line winds, and large hail.

To protect yourself during a tornado, move to an underground/basement shelter (if available) or an interior room, closet, or hallway on the lowest level of a building.  Stay away from windows and doors.  Avoid areas with wide-span roofs, such as auditoriums, theatres, gymnasiums, or arenas.  Also, do not attempt to outrun a tornado in a car or truck.   If necessary, lay flat in a ditch or low-lying area and cover your head and neck.

When severe weather threatens, the City of Canyon can activate its outdoor siren alert system. If the sirens have been activated, do not move from building to building or to a vehicle, remain inside.   The following buildings on campus have basements:


• Agriculture & Natural Sciences Building (ANS)

• Amarillo Center (basement of the tower)
• Hastings Electronic Learning Center – HELC (in the basement of the library, interior hallways and rooms only, stay away from exterior doors, windows, and glass)
• Old Main (1st floor basement away from exterior doors and windows)
• Museum Annex
• Virgil Henson Activities Center (VHAC)
• WTAMU Bookstore (located in the JBK Student Center)

Additional Resources:

National Weather Service (www.noaa.gov)
Tornado Fire Safety (factsheet)
Weather.com (www.weather.com)