Opinion | Now is the time to prepare for the next tornado


Hannah Shedd, Contributing Columnist

Severe weather isn’t a joke; it’s unpredictable and dangerous.

Tornado season runs from November through May in Alabama, meaning it can dominate nearly the whole school year. As tornado season advances in Alabama, it is important that students are aware of severe weather at the University. 

Tornadoes pose a threat to everyone on campus, especially those unequipped to deal with them. Many out-of-state students have never experienced the type of harsh weather that’s normal in Tornado Alley. Out-of-state students come to Tuscaloosa without an idea of what to expect. 

Tornadoes are a common occurrence in Alabama. While all students are instructed on preventive measures such as locking their doors and evacuating during a fire, nothing can truly prepare them for a massive tunnel of wind approaching their rickety dorms. 

While many out-of-state students have a lack of tornado experience to blame for their insufficient preparedness, in-state students can be just as guilty. 

Growing up in the state of Alabama entails participating in frequent tornado drills, learning to shelter in place, and, if you’re lucky, listening to James Spann speak to your class. 

In-state students are aware of the threat of severe weather and the catastrophic consequences that happen when one doesn’t adhere to tornado safety guidelines, but  this experience with tornadoes can give students the false impression that no further preparation is necessary. 

We equate experience with severe weather with expertise. 

Students should be aware of the many tornado shelters on campus and locate the one closest to their dorm building or classroom. To locate the nearest shelter, consult campus maps both in academic buildings and online

Don’t wait to find the one that you prefer the most or the one your friend is staying at. Friends can wait; tornadoes will not. 

Sometimes it is impossible to get to a shelter. If this is ever the case, students should vacate a central room with no windows and either put on a helmet or get under something sturdy, such as a table, to protect their head. 

All students should have an emergency weather radio, which can serve as a lifeline. If your phone is unavailable or unable to be used during severe weather, you will still be able to stay connected with the news. 

Most people think that they will hear a tornado siren before it’s time to take action. While there are tornado sirens that are active during a tornado warning, they are not loud enough to be heard in all situations.  By the time students hear the sirens, it may be too late to go to a shelter at all. 

It is always best to take shelter early and err on the side of caution in severe weather . Too many lives have been lost to harsh weather conditions when these deaths are mostly preventable. As we near another anniversary of the 2011 tornado in Tuscaloosa, it’s important to honor our past by preparing for the future.

Take advantage of the campus resources for severe weather. If you haven’t already, subscribe to UA Alerts and download the UA Safety app. If these seem unnecessary now, they won’t when we need them.