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A tornado is a violently swirling column of air, a “funnel cloud” that stretches from the base of a thunderstorm down to the ground. Winds in excess of 200 MPH can crush sturdy structures, uproot trees, flip heavy objects like cars or utility poles, and create deadly flying debris.

When the National Weather Service issues an official tornado warning, the City of Chicago will activate the outdoor warning system and broadcast an alert across the University campus. If you hear it or otherwise know a tornado warning is in effect, immediately take shelter.

If you hear about an o­fficial warning:

  • ­Remain calm: There is no guaranteed safe place during a tornado, but you will minimize your exposure by finding shelter in the best possible location.
  • ­DO NOT wait until you see the tornado: Resist the temptation to go outside and check conditions for yourself. If you know of others in the building and severe weather warnings are issued, spread the word.
  • ­Areas to seek: The safest place to be is an underground shelter, basement, or predesignated Storm Refuge Area. If no underground shelter or safe room is available, a small, windowless interior room or hallway on the lowest level of a sturdy building is the safest alternative. Crouch near the floor or under heavy, well-supported objects and cover your head.
    • If caught outdoors, drive to the closest shelter, take cover in a stationary vehicle, or lay in a depression and cover your head.
  • ­Areas to avoid: Stay clear of windows, corridors with windows, or large free-standing expanses such as lecture halls or cafeterias. DO NOT use elevators during a tornado warning.
  • ­Help others: Be mindful of class or workmates, family, or friends who may be hearing impaired or those who may not hear tornado warnings.
  • NEVER pull a ­fire alarm unless there is a fire. Otherwise, people may flee a relatively safe building and expose themselves to blowing debris.

For emergency situational updates, visit: