University officials remind campus about severe weather precautions
Michigan is hit by an average of 16 tornados each year, usually between May and August, according to the National Weather Service. As the severe-weather season approaches, university officials would like to remind members of the campus community about important information to help plan for and respond to various weather situations.
When severe weather strikes, strike back by moving your activities to a safe, indoor location.
They encourage the campus community to follow these tips from the Division of Public Safety and Security (DPSS) and the College of Engineering's Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences (AOSS):
• Sign up for UM Emergency Alerts. Messages are delivered when a tornado warning has been issued for our county.
The UM Emergency Alert system delivers urgent updates via e-mail, text and phone calls. Individuals can register up to two phone numbers to receive phone call notifications and one number to receive text messages. Registration is available on the university's Emergency Alert website.
• Know the difference between a storm watch and a storm warning. A watch means conditions are favorable to produce severe weather, but that it has not yet occurred. A storm warning means severe weather, such as a thunderstorm or tornado, has been detected in the area and people should seek immediate shelter to protect themselves.
The university's Emergency Preparedness website contains a more detailed explanation of various storm definitions.
• If you are outdoors and hear the warning sirens, immediately seek shelter indoors and monitor local media outlets for official information.
The City of Ann Arbor sirens are intended to be heard by those outdoors throughout the city, including on the U-M campus, to warn people to take indoor shelter. Typically, the county sirens are not audible in many on-campus locations.
• Different types of severe weather warrant different types of shelter, but for severe thunderstorms and tornados, the safest shelter is an interior hallway or small interior room on the lowest level of the building, away from windows and glass.
In addition to notifications from the UM Emergency Alert System, individuals can monitor local media outlets for updated information during severe weather. Washtenaw County's emergency broadcasters are:
To highlight the importance of taking shelter during severe weather, DPSS and AOSS worked with Filmic, a group of student filmmakers, to develop a 46-second public service announcement to "strike back" against severe weather.
"We wanted to utilize a fun and creative approach to reinforce the importance of taking severe weather seriously and the dangers it presents to everyone within the state of Michigan," said Andy Burchfield, manager of the Office of Emergency Preparedness. "The Filmic team was an excellent partner in assisting us with presenting that message."