Hazardous Weather

<p>I am sure that is an off the wall question: But weather in Chicago has been as crazy as I ever remember it. I almost was blown over as I walked across campus just now! Friday we had 6" of snow fall in about 6 hours. Yesterday night we had thunder storms roll thru. Sort of made me think about UA and my soon to be freshman.</p>

<p>Being from the Midwest we are no strangers to severe weather and tornado warnings, watches, etc. Where do the students go when there is a threat of severe weather? How are they notified?</p>

<p>thanks so much-</p>

<p>buzymom3,</p>

<p>Just talked to my daughter who says it is sunny and 70....yeah! As for bad weather, the UA sends alerts to students smartphones and emails and has sirens/alerts around campus. In the dorms, the students are shown where the "safest place" is for these situations. I had the same concerns as you.</p>

<p>As a parent, I appreciate that I have received emails from time to time as well.</p>

<p>To parent56, hope your son is well in Birmingham. Saw tornadoes touched down there today.</p>

<p>As an Alabama native I can tell you the best ways we have here to be notified about severe weather. 1) Make sure at least one of the roommates brings a NOAA weather radio! Most models can now be set to go off only when there is a watch or warning for the immediate area you are in at the time. Simply set it up and forget it until you need it. 2) A service that costs about $10.00 per year. It's called WeatherCall. When a watch/warning goes out for your locations the service calls your cell phone and/or landline and a message plays giving you the details of the alert. 3) If you have an iPhone, invest in an app called iMap Weather Radio. Not sure of the cost -- no more than a few dollars. It will give an audible or vibrating alert when there is a warning or watch. The great thing about it is that if you allow it, it will follow your location using the GPS in the phone. This has been very useful when driving long distances and we are not familiar with local radio stations, etc. </p>

<p>It may sound strange, but also invest in a full face coverage motorcycle helment. Our DD will be bringing one to keep in her dorm closet in case of a tornado warning. We have used bicycle helments since the tornado here in 1998 but will now be upgrading. </p>

<p>During the storms here today a 16 year old girl was killed in her home. Her father admitted that they were relying on the sirens and did not wake up in time to seek shelter in their basement. Very, very sad situation.</p>

<p>One lesson learned from last April's Tuscaloosa tornado - get a battery powered cell phone charger for your student's cell phone. The power was out for a while and her cell phone battery died. We intended to get one for her before this spring's tornado season, but never dreamed she might need it in January! Guess I will start shopping around for one this week!</p>

<p>D has an American Red Cross/NOAA emergency radio; we got the bundle so she can have the small one in her vehicle. She got the larger room one out at midnight last night and was able to set it so it wasn’t on constantly but would give her alerts, which it did when Tuscaloosa County came under alert. Amazon.com:</a> Eton American Red Cross Emergency Preparedness Bundle (FR150 and FR300): Electronics</p>

<p>We felt fortunate to get James Spann’s live stream out of Birmingham online: ABC</a> 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports - Home He is so knowledgeable, AL is fortunate to have him. He gave specific statewide coverage all through the night. It was very reassuring to us being in the northeast to know what was going on.</p>

<p>As per Missread above…James Spann mentioned several times about using bike, motorcycle or football helmets. He made reference to a recent study out of UAB that is strongly supporting this. Here is an article w/mention of it noting as Missread said that the full face motorcycle helmet is best. UAB</a> - UAB researchers say add a helmet to your tornado-preparation kit</p>

<p>James Spann also commented how he hopes/anticipates that the warning system will change from county wide alerts to more specific alerts, what he referred to throughout the night as polygons. His comments about county wide alerts not being specific enough proved to be true as D was alerted around 2am by her radio. That warning was for Tuscaloosa County but she had no idea by the alert alone of how close or far to campus the alert was. His coverage however did provide that it was for a polygon north of Northport. The</a> Warning Process Must Be Fixed |</p>

<p>We know students will be alerted on their phones and email but does anyone know if there is a plan in place by the University to get students into buildings with basements in the event of a direct tornado on campus? We are not particularly comfortable that her dorm and we suspect many of the newer dorms do not have a basement level to go to. We were wondering if there is a detailed plan (based on #’s of students without basement dorms) of where they should go. We have asked D to look into this and in the meantime to identify buildings close to her dorm that have basements, but who’s to say they would be open and/or if there would be room if there isn’t a predetermined plan for # of students going to certain locations?</p>

<p>From James Spann article: The</a> Warning Process Must Be Fixed |
The best model I see now for the future warning device is the WeatherRadio app from the iMap weather guys. If you are in a polygon, you get the notification on your smart phone. If you are not, nothing happens. it works beautifully.</p>

<p>All of this weather/safety talk is freaking me out a bit right now....</p>

<p>S had the imap thing on his iPhone first semester but he had to get a new phone & it's not installed. I will bug him to make sure it's back on.</p>

<p>I am learning more about weather- I thought tornadoes were only spring/summer & late afternoon. I have Spann on twitter but I don't know the counties at all so no idea what is close or not. </p>

<p>We are all living in the reality of crazy weather everywhere. We've had tornadoes & earthquakes here this year as well as freak storms. My D lives in SF which is very concerning, but I wouldn't tell her not to live there. </p>

<p>I think odds favor T-town & when in doubt I go with the math (& of course praying)</p>

<p>I live in Maryland. This year I lived through my first earthquake and had a tornado miss my street by a few blocks for the second time. We worry about hurricaines every single summer. Not to mention ice storms, snowmageddon, and of course deadly heat with code red environmental levels. </p>

<p>I know that in general, there are a few more tornado's in Alabama than Maryland. But I just can't believe that overall the weather is going to be that much worse than here!</p>

<p>Another vote for James Spann: I think everyone at UA (and their parents) should be "friends" with JS on Facebook. He is knowledgeable without being alarmist. In this day and age there is no reason that people should be surprised by storms. JS started telling people about the April 27th possibilities about 5 days before, and about yesterdays storms about 3 days before. </p>

<p>I haven't yet, but will be downloading one of the weather apps for my phone that uses the GPS chip to match your location to the warning. One of the things that leads to lack of use of the weather radios is that they'll go off for an entire county, when your location isn't in the warning area polygon. Nothing like getting blared out of bed at 3am only to find that there's no threat to your area. That's when it gets unplugged (not that I did anything like that Monday morning.)</p>

<p>thanks montegut... uab was fine.. son was grumpy... got a phone call, text, email and RA banging on the door (as well as sirens outside) at 3am to get them all down to the basement of the dorms... mom is fine knowing they certainly have the methods down to advise them of severe weather.</p>

<p>thought some of you might be interested in this... the F number is related to the amount of damage done, not necessarily the strength of the storm... a very strong tornado may only be rated as an F1 if it goes through fields etc</p>

<p>The</a> Fujita Scale of Tornado Intensity</p>

<p>I would also like to know UA's plan for the students in case of a tornado. Do the dorms all have basements? If not, where do students go? Are there enough safe places for all of the students?</p>

<p>linnylu: last year D was on campus for two tornado warnings. In the first, she was at the Ferguson Center & everyone was shepherded down to the lower floor. </p>

<p>On April 27th, she was in her dorm & everyone was directed to the stairwells. If you think about when buildings are being constructed, the stairwells are the first thing that go up and are structurally very sound with lots of steel & encased in concrete. I'm not an engineer so maybe someone can explain things better, but they are designed to be much sturdier. I don't believe any of the dorms have basements (maybe some of the older ones?)</p>

<p>I'm curious about warnings in the middle of the night. D didn't know anything was going on the other night. Told me it must have rained during the night because it was wet outside! I know there wasn't a threat to campus, but how are the students alerted when there is a threat?</p>

<p>to add on to RobD's question for engineers, aren't buildings that are built in tornado/hurricaine/earthquake zones equipped with certian safeguards to sturdy them in those types of events? Especially public buildings, but residential as well?</p>

<p>Like BamaMomof3's D, my two S didn't hear any sirens and had no idea anything happened at all, yet an EF3 tornado actually touched down in Tuscaloosa County (north of campus). Update:</a> National Weather Service confirmed EF-3 tornadoes in Jefferson, Tuscaloosa counties | al.com I thought after what happened in April there would be a big awareness of tornadoes and maybe even an excess of caution, temporarily. I appreciate learning about these smartphone apps and weather radios because it sounds like that's going to be our best bet.</p>

<p>As far as we are aware students did not get any notifications from UA the other night. Our D happened to call us around 10pm and told us that there was going to be bad weather in AL with the possibilities of tornados...that is when we told her to get her emergency radio out. She did and set it so she would be alerted. She got the Tuscaloosa County alert around 2/2:15am, called us and did go down to the RA to inquire since there had been no text or email from the university. She was told the campus will send out a warning if they were in direct danger...hence why we were glued to James Spann online to know exactly where those polygons were that were north of campus. Our understanding is a change in wind direction can change the course of a tornado fairly rapidly. </p>

<p>This is why we are asking what the exact plan is in the event of a tornado directly approaching campus. We are not comfortable with the stairwells being safe enough when you see the destruction of the buildings these tornados have caused...we would want our child in a building with a basement. To be honest she told me last night that the rest of her roommates slept through the night and were unaware there was a threat in Tuscaloosa County. I suspect this is the case for the majority of students which I do find concerning. I don't want her to be overly panicked to the point she will become complacent over time about tornado warnings/alerts but I do think awareness of what is going on and using precautions (having your radios and phones set for alerts and knowing what the plan is if a tornado was directly approaching) is important when these things are coming through. She will be getting the app for her phone and we did discuss that we will purchase a motor cycle helmet for her to have in her closet in the event it is ever needed.</p>

<p>re helmet</p>

<p>UAB</a> - UAB researchers say add a helmet to your tornado-preparation kit</p>