Tornado emergency page icon

tornado emergency page iconTornado Watches and Warnings are issued by the National Weather Service when the probability exists that a significant threat could develop over a wide area. Warnings are issued for much smaller areas and periods of time than Watches.

Tornado Watch means that conditions are favorable for tornadoes to form. Be alert to weather conditions and announcements.

Tornado Warning means that a tornado has been sighted or radar indicates rotation in the clouds. TAKE SHELTER!

At the University, the following systems are used for alerting building occupants of a tornado:

  1. Outdoor sirens operated by Lincoln-Lancaster Emergency Management
  2. Voice announcement
  3. UNL Alert: text messages, email, digital signs, Websites, Twitter and Facebook
  4. Weather radio and designated staff alerting building occupants
  5. UNL's Tornado Policy

Upon hearing the outdoor warning sirens use the following procedures for employee safety:


  1. Lincoln/Lancaster County Emergency Management will activate outdoor warning sirens upon confirmation of a tornado. The duration of sirens is 3 minutes. All University personnel are directed to seek shelter indoors upon activation of the sirens. It is not safe to leave the shelter until local radio and television stations announce that the warning has expired.
  2. Where available, the University may provide supplemental notification of Lincoln/Lancaster County Emergency Management tornado warnings through one of the following methods:
    • Amplified voice announcements over the public address system
    • UNL Alert
    • Other approved devices



  1. Move quickly to the tornado shelters in University buildings listed on posters near elevators and entrances.
  2. Do not use elevators.
  3. Stay away from windows.
  4. If a tornado strikes, help avoid telephone overloads. Do not use telephones (including cell phones) except for emergency.


  1. Seek indoor shelter if possible.
  2. Parked motor vehicles are unsafe. Seek indoor shelter.
  3. If an indoor shelter is not available and there is not time for escape, lie flat in a ditch or low spot.
  4. If you are on flat ground and are caught in the path of a tornado, always move at right angles to its path.

Individuals with mobility/impairments or physical disabilities:

Prior planning and practice of evacuation routes to tornado shelters is important, particularly for individuals with mobility impairments or physical disabilities.

Supervisory personnel and course instructors are responsible for identifying and escorting individuals with mobility impairments or physical disabilities located in their offices/facilities or classrooms to safety in a tornado shelter in the event of a tornado warning.

The elevators may be used to transport individuals with mobility impairments or physical disabilities and their escorts to tornado shelters. Visually impaired and hearing impaired individuals may be escorted down the stairs to tornado shelters but may require assistance in moving in crowded staircases and in finding the tornado shelter.

In the event of a power failure, individuals who are unable to use the stairs and their escorts should move to an interior location without windows and call the University Operator at 402-472-7211 (dial 0 if on campus), who will notify the appropriate emergency personnel with the location.

Television and radio announcements--When a watch has been issued, pay close attention to these broadcast signals and anticipate the possibility of severe weather.

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