Tornado Tornado

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), “tornadoes are nature’s most violent storms.” Tornadoes often occur as part of a severe thunderstorm and may develop rapidly. Commonly appearing as a rotating, funnel shaped cloud that extends from the sky to the ground, tornado winds can reach up to 300 miles per hour. FEMA emphasizes that every state is at some risk for a tornado. During a storm, before the tornado strikes, winds may die down and the air may become very still.


  • Ensure you are signed up for UConnALERT.
  • Download the FEMA App to receive real time weather alerts from the National Weather Service.
    • Visit:
    • Once you download the mobile application, enter your county into the “Weather Alerts” section of the app. You can enter up to 5 locations. You can view a map of Connecticut counties here.
  • Know the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning.
    • A tornado watch means that current conditions create the possibility of a tornado. You should remain alert and stay tuned to local radio, television, the National Weather Service or for official University announcements for more information.
    • A tornado warning means that a tornado has actually been sighted or indicated by weather radar technology in your area and you should seek shelter immediately.
  • Understand UConn’s protective action terminology:
  • Determine safe locations ahead of time in buildings you frequently occupy or visit.
  • Always remain alert to changing weather conditions. During a severe storm, pay attention for the potential signs of a tornado:
    • Dark, often greenish sky
    • Large hail
    • Loud roar


If you receive an alert about a tornado occurring or about to occur, stay calm and do the following:

If you are in a building:

  1. Go to the center of a small interior room, on the lowest level of the building (closet, interior hallway) away from corners, windows, doors and outside walls.
    1. If you have an accessible basement or below-grade area, go to that location.
  2. Get under a sturdy piece of furniture, if possible.
  3. Cover your head and neck with your arms.
  4. Do not open any windows or doors.
  5. If you are in a multi-story building, get to a small interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible.


If you are outside:

  1. Immediately seek safe shelter inside a building, as described above.
  2. If you cannot walk to a shelter, immediately get into a vehicle, buckle your seat belt and try to drive to the closest sturdy shelter, if possible.
  3. If there is no time to escape and no close shelter, lie flat in a low lying area.
    1. Cover you head with your hands.
    2. Watch out for flying debris.
    3. A flat ditch, lower than the roadway, that does not flood may be a safer place.
    4. Do not get under a bridge or overpass.

If you are in your vehicle, but cannot reach shelter:

  1. Take cover in your vehicle
  2. Put on your seatbelt
  3. Put your head down below the windows and cover your head with your arms. Cover your head with a blanket or coat, if possible.

FEMA reminds individuals that “if you are not in a sturdy building, there is no single research-based recommendation for what last-resort action to take because many factors can affect your decision.” Any action is better than no action.

With all of the construction activity at the University, there are often manufactured offices (mobile offices) at construction sites. These are not considered safe locations, as they provide very little protection from tornadoes.


  • Remain in a sheltered/safe location until you receive an “All Clear” message.
  • Follow UConnALERT.
  • Follow instructions from University and Emergency Personnel.
  • Pay attention to the local forecast.
  • If there is tornado debris:
    • Watch for fallen power lines, dangerous or sharp objects and damaged tree limbs.
    • Stay out of damaged buildings and other dangerous areas.
    • Call 9-1-1 to report any emergency situations.

Remember to always follow the instructions of Emergency Personnel during a tornado or any emergency. You should always consider your personal safety in every unique situation.

For more information:

National Weather Service: Tornado Safety Tornadoes


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