Severe Weather

Q. What is the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning?

A. A tornado watch means that conditions are favorable for tornadoes to form. Be alert to weather conditions and announcements. A tornado warning means a tornado has been sighted or radar indicates rotation in the clouds. Lancaster County Emergency Management and UNL will sound tornado sirens when a tornado has been spotted on the ground.

Q. Who issues a tornado watch?

A. The National Weather Service.

Q. Who issues a tornado warning?

A. The National Weather Service will issue to tornado warning when conditions or radar indicate a tornado. Lancaster County Emergency Management will sound tornado sirens and UNL will activate internal notification systems.

Q. Why is it possible that the National Weather Service may issue a tornado warning for the area but Lancaster County Emergency Management does not sound their civil defense sirens?

A. Lancaster County Emergency Management relies on trained spotters and their procedures call for activation of the civil defense sirens only when a tornado has been spotted on the ground. This criterion is intended to limit "false" alarms and provide residents at least 5 minutes to seek shelter. So when the sirens are sounded in the city and on the University campus, the warning should be taken seriously.

Q. How will I know when a tornado warning is over and we can leave the shelter area?

A.  Local radio and television stations will announce that the warning has expired.

Q. When is the statewide test of the tornado alarm systems?

A. The state of Nebraska tests the tornado alarm systems in late March or early April during Severe Weather Awareness Week.

Q. Are we supposed to seek shelter during the test of the tornado warning systems?

A. All faculty, staff and students are asked to participate in the annual statewide test to familiarize themselves with the locations of designated shelters and procedures to follow.

Q. I hear an alarm test every month in my building. What is that and should I be seeking shelter during that time?

A. UNL will join Lincoln/Lancaster County Emergency Management in testing all tornado warning systems on the first Wednesday of each month at approximately 10:15 a.m. The test will end within 5 minutes. You do not need to seek shelter during these tests of the alarm systems. Tests will not be conducted when there is a threat of severe weather.

Q. I cannot hear the outdoor warning sirens activated by Lancaster County Emergency Management when I'm inside my building.

A. These sirens are in place to warn those people outdoors to seek shelter indoors.

Q. According to the UNL Tornado Warning Policy, there are no internal alarms in my building. Whom should I contact to address my concerns?

A. Please contact your Department Head/Chair with your concerns. Questions about the cost of installing an internal tornado system should be directed to Facilities Management.

Q. How can I find out who the Building Maintenance Reporter (BMR) is in my building?

A. Facilities Management service desk at 472-1550 can help you locate the BMR in your building.

Q. Who should I contact about obtaining a BMR pager?

A. A BMR should contact Colleen Huls in IS-Communications at 472-2131.

Q. Who do I contact if I need new or replacement posters in my building?

A. A BMR should contact Colleen Huls in IS-Communications at 472-2131.

Q. Our office just moved into a new building. Who can help me find the best tornado shelter area?

A. A BMR should contact Colleen Huls in IS-Communications at 472-2131.

Q. According to the UNL Tornado Warning Policy, I am in a building with an interior tornado signal, however no one heard a signal during the tornado warning. Who should I contact?

A. Notify Facilities Management service desk at 472-1550.

Q. Is that an actual person giving the voice message in my building or a recording?

A. Some buildings will hear a prerecorded voice message. Other buildings will hear the voice of a UNL operator.

Q. If my building has no internal tornado signal, what can the occupants of my building do to prepare for severe weather?

A. Follow these suggestions:

  1. Contact the BMR in your building and find out if they have a BMR pager issued by IS-Communications. If not, make sure your BMR knows how to get a pager. The BMR should anticipate severe weather and have the BMR pager with them (and turned on with a fresh battery) at all times.
  2. Request that your department purchase weather alert radios to hear all broadcasts of the National Weather Service and the Lancaster Emergency Management office. These can be purchased from IS-Communications or any store that sells electronics.
  3. Turn on a television or radio and listen to the severe weather broadcasts. Take a battery-operated radio with you into a tornado shelter for up-to-date weather information.
Q. How much does a weather alert radio from IS Communications cost?

A. IS-Communications sells weather alert radios for $60.

Q. How much does a BMR pager from IS-Communications cost?

A. The cost of a BMR pager is a one-time fee of $100.

Q. If we do not have an internal tornado alarm system in our building, are we still supposed to seek shelter during the test of the tornado warning systems?

A. Buildings without an internal tornado alarm system need to rely on the Building Maintenance Reporters or weather alert radios for these notifications, and that process needs to be tested. Yes, all faculty, staff, and students are requested to seek shelter during the test.

Q. Is there a way to receive alerts over the Internet?

A. Information on UNL Alert can be found at emergency.unl.edu/unlalert/


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