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IU Communications

Diane Mack
IU Emergency Management and Continuity

Last modified: Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Operation Stormy Weather: IU to conduct tornado drills March 27

March 20, 2013

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University campuses will participate in a statewide tornado drill Wednesday, March 27, as part of Indiana's Severe Weather Awareness Week, March 24 to 30.

Each campus will activate a tornado warning test/drill using IU-Notify, the university's emergency notification system, between 10 and 10:30 a.m. EDT for the first test and between 7:15 and 7:45 p.m. for the second, both coinciding with the statewide and county tornado siren drills. The IU Northwest campus in Gary is on Central Daylight Time, so the IU-Notify test there will occur one hour earlier.

Weather Button

In the event of real severe weather conditions, the drill will be postponed until Thursday, March 28, at the same times.

Test messages will be sent to IU faculty, staff and students across the state via email, text message (SMS), social media, digital signage, campus cable TV and website updates.

This test of IU-Notify and the full-scale tornado drill are part of "Operation Stormy Weather," a university campaign to raise awareness of preparedness and safety procedures during severe weather season. All members of the IU community are expected to follow tornado procedures as if this were a real tornado warning by seeking shelter when notification is received, whether that is via sirens or IU-Notify alerts.

Past tests have shown that phone calls generally are not a timely way to alert recipients to a tornado, so they will not be part of this test. To mimic real-world procedures for tornado warnings, a second alert will be sent for each test to indicate the "all clear." Test messages clearly will be marked as tests, and university websites will alert campus communities in advance of what to expect.

Because the tests are statewide, alerts also will be broadcast on National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather radio and local media. Outdoor warning sirens and public address systems also will be tested at both times.

"Operation Stormy Weather" is designed to encourage faculty, staff and students to be prepared for the downside of weather: tornadoes and severe thunderstorms, which can include damaging winds, hail, lightning and flooding.

All members of the IU community should review severe weather communications and shelter plans for their respective buildings before the test March 27. Everyone should participate in this important preparedness drill and also consider practicing with their families at home during the evening test.

Just over one year ago in Henryville in southern Indiana, Hoosiers were vividly reminded that seconds count in a tornado. Knowing and practicing what to do and where to go can save lives.

What to do before the drills:

  • All members of the IU community are expected to follow tornado procedures as if this were a real tornado warning by seeking shelter when notification is received, whether that is via sirens or IU-Notify alerts.
  • Locate tornado-safe locations in all the buildings you typically use. They will be building-specific. Tornado shelters are indicated by a tornado funnel cloud symbol.
  • If you have access or functional needs, please determine the best solution for your situation in order to get to an appropriate tornado-safe location.

During the drills:

  • Remain in the shelter location until you or others in the location receive the IU-Notify All Clear alert.
  • When IU-Notify messages are delivered, recipients should be sure those around them are aware of the message in case they are not subscribed to IU-Notify. They should check to see whether anyone in their vicinity needs assistance in following severe weather procedure.
  • Be certain that those people from other countries -- who may be used to a siren signaling a tsunami -- know what the siren means in the United States.
  • Please note the time you receive the alerts from IU-Notify, including whether you saw them on digital signs or campus websites. Your feedback is important and helps the university better protect you should the system need to be activated in an emergency. You will have the opportunity to share your feedback through a short survey linked to the IU-Notify test email.
  • Lab procedures: If you're working in a lab or conducting another critical function that cannot be interrupted (i.e., dentistry procedure) and can't seek shelter during this drill, the people who cannot seek shelter should take a few minutes to review building procedures. Know where you would have gone to seek shelter, and discuss those procedures with anyone else in the vicinity. However, if this were a real tornado warning, you would be expected to proceed to a designated tornado shelter location.