The Protect IU Blog

    Operation Stormy Weather

    With spring around the corner and the threat of severe weather upon us, Indiana University campuses will participate in a statewide tornado drill on Wednesday, March 21, as part of Indiana's Severe Weather Awareness Week, March 18 to 24.

    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. for the first test and between 7:30 and 8 p.m. for the second, both coinciding with the statewide drill. 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 is part of "Operation Stormy Weather," a university campaign to raise awareness of preparedness and safety procedures during severe weather season. The campaign was created to reach IU communities since this is the first time in recent years that no IU campus is on spring break during the state's Severe Weather Awareness Week.

    Past tests have shown that phone calls generally are not a timely way to alert people to a tornado, so they will not be part of this test. In the event of an actual tornado, "all clear" messages would be sent when the situation merits; however, since this is a test, no "all clear" messages will be sent. The test message will be clearly marked as a drill, 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. The 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 spring: 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 on March 21. 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.

    When test messages are delivered, recipients should be sure that those around them are aware of the message in case others are not subscribed to IU-Notify. They should check to see whether anyone in their vicinity needs assistance following severe weather procedures. Also, be certain that people from other countries -- who may be used to a siren signaling a tsunami, for instance -- know what the siren means in the United States.

    The IU-Notify test also marks a good time to replace batteries in departmental weather radios, which IU Emergency Management and Continuity recommends for every university building and department.

    NOAA weather/all-hazards alert radios should be placed where staff and other occupants can hear them while the building is in use. The radios receive alerts directly from the National Weather Service and are the fastest way to learn about weather watches, warnings and other emergency information issued by government authorities. In addition, many radios can be programmed to receive alerts only for the county where your campus is located using Specific Area Message Encoding, or SAME, technology.

    NOAA weather/all-hazards alert radios are available through IU Purchasing or by contacting Midland Radio Corp. The recommended model, No. WR100B, costs about $33. More information is available at www.midlandradio.com/Products/WR-100-Programming-Video. Additional NOAA weather radio information can be found on its website, www.nws.noaa.gov/nwr

    NOTE: IU faculty, staff and students are strongly encouraged to visit IU-Notify to review, verify, update and add contact information to ensure that they will receive IU-Notify messages in the event of an emergency. They should log in to OneStart at https://onestart.iu.edu to confirm that contact information submitted previously is still correct.

    This Blog entry was originally a News Release in the IU News Room, found here: http://newsinfo.iu.edu/news/page/normal/21524.html