Tornado Preparedness

Tornado Preparedness Planning (Ready.Gov)

Tornados are one of the most dangerous and unpredictable weather events and can materialize in a matter of minutes. Within the New River Valley and Radford community it can be even more dangerous because of the mountain and uneven terrain and restrictions to line of site recognition. Familiarize yourself with the information below and be aware of your environment on campus.

Signs of an Approaching Storm
Some tornadoes strike rapidly, without time for a tornado warning, and sometimes without a thunderstorm in the vicinity. When you are watching for rapidly emerging tornadoes, it is important to know that you cannot depend on seeing a funnel: clouds, rain. or the regional mountain range may block your view especially in the City of Radford/New River Valley region. The following general weather signs may mean that a tornado is approaching:

  • A dark or green-colored sky
  • A large, dark, low-lying cloud
  • Large hail
  • A loud roar that sounds like a freight train.

If you notice any of these weather conditions, take cover immediately, and keep tuned to local radio and TV stations or to a NOAA weather radio. ( NOTE: If a tornado warning is issued for the City of Radford/Radford University area an emergency alert may be issued as well as siren activation.

Know the Terminology
The following information is from the National Weather Service about what you should do in the case of a tornado. Read this information before any severe weather or tornado activity. This provides common information and preparation information that will help you respond if you experience weather event. Make sure you understand the definitions for Tornado Watch and Tornado warnings listed above. (

What is a tornado watch?
A tornado watch means that tornadoes and other kinds of severe weather are possible in the next several hours. It does not mean tornadoes are imminent, just that you need to be alert, and to be prepared to go to safe shelter when a tornado is issued. Know where your safe area is in your RU dorm/residence hall  or any other campus building. Ask your resident director or building monitor if you do not know or not sure. Refer to building signs, local TV, radio, and building signage monitors. Listen for building weather radios, RUAlerts, siren, social media, as well as other alert information and alarms. Turn on and set the alarm switch on your weather radio, make sure you have ready access to safe shelter and follow campus police and safety directions.

What is a tornado warning?
A tornado warning means that a tornado has been spotted, or that Doppler radar indicates a thunderstorm circulation which can spawn a tornado. When a tornado warning is issued for the Radford City/Radford Univerity area, take immediate safety precautions. The local NWS offices will be the agency to issue tornado warnings. (

It is important to remember that with any severe weather event, tornado, or hurricane normal normal RU campus communications can be disrupted. Business and personal cellular phone service can be greatly impacted by the weather as well as damage to regional cell towers and equipment. Even in ideal conditions telephone use will dramatically increase for both home and cellular service carriers that may cause severe communication system loads fr all carriers and limit cell phone use.

Know your environment
Make sure you understand and know where severe weather safe places are in your RU dorm buildings, dining halls, offices, classrooms, and all buildings on campus you frequent. Sign up for RUALERT!

During a Tornado
If you are under a tornado warning, seek shelter immediately!
  Most injuries associated with high winds are from flying debris, so remember to protect your head. If available, put on a bicycle or motorcycle helmet to protect yourself from head injuries.

If you are in a RU structure
Go to a pre-designated shelter area such as a dorm or campus building safe room, basement, storm cellar, or the lowest building level. If there is no basement, go to the center of an interior room on the lowest level (closet, interior hallway) away from corners, windows, doors, and outside walls. Put as many walls as possible between you and the outside. Get under a sturdy table and use your arms to protect your head and neck.

In a RU campus multi-story building
Go to a small interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible. If available, put on a bicycle or motorcycle helmet to protect yourself from head injuries. Put on sturdy shoes. Do not open windows.

If you are in any portable classroom or temporary trailer or mobile home
Get out immediately and go to the lowest floor of a sturdy, nearby building or a storm shelter. Mobile homes, even if tied down, offer little protection from tornadoes.

If you outside with no access to campus or other shelter
Get into a vehicle, buckle your seat belt and try to drive to the closest sturdy shelter.  If your vehicle is hit by flying debris while you are driving, pull over and park.   Stay in the car with the seat belt on. Put your head down below the windows; cover your head with your hands and a blanket, coat or other cushion if possible.

If you can safely get noticeably lower than the level of the roadway, leave your car and lie in that area, covering your head with your hands.  Do not get under an overpass or bridge. You are safer in a low, flat location.  Never try to outrun a tornado in urban or congested areas in a car or truck. Instead, leave the vehicle immediately for safe shelter. Watch out for flying debris. Flying debris from tornadoes causes most fatalities and injuries.
Get ready for a tornado with the official Tornado App from the American Red Cross. The tornado warning app puts everything you need to know to prepare for a tornado – and all that comes with it – in the palm of your hand. With interactive quizzes and simple step-by-step advice it’s never been easier to be ready.

From your mobile phone, call "**REDCROSS" (**73327677) and we will send you a link to download the app to your phone or you can download them directly from the iTunes or Google Play app stores.