The National Weather Service defines severe thunderstorms as storms that are capable of producing hail that is an inch or larger or wind gusts over 58 mph. Hail that is an inch or larger is capable of damaging property such as, plants, roofs and vehicles. Wind gusts over 58 mph is able to break off large branches, knock over trees or cause structural damage to trees. Thunderstorms can also produce tornadoes and dangerous lightning, as well as heavy rain which can cause flash flooding.
Watch vs. Warning
Severe Thunderstorm Watch: Be Prepared! Severe thunderstorms are possible in and near the watch area. Stay informed and be ready to act if a severe thunderstorm warning is issues. The watch area is typically large, covering numerous counties or even states.
Severe Thunderstorm Warning: Take Action! Severe weather has been reported by spotters or indicated by radar. Warnings indicate imminent danger to life and property. Take shelter in a substantial building. Warnings typically encompass a much smaller area (around the size of a city or small county) that may be impacted by large hail or damaging wind identified by a NWS forecaster on radar or by a trained spotter/law enforcement who is watching the storm.
Be Weather Ready!
Check the forecast from a trusted source regularly to stay informed about potential severe weather. Also, ensure that you are signed up for and your information is up-to-date in the BSU Blackboard system. Another way to stay informed is by signing up for the Beltrami County CodeRed notification system. Simply follow this link and use your work or home address (if you live in Beltrami County) to sign up for weather warnings.
Create and Practice a Department Plan
Your department or office should create an emergency plan that address various emergencies, including evacuation and sheltering. This plan should be updated and practiced annually. You can also reference the BSU/NTC Emergency Procedures Guide found in the Safety Plans & Policies Tab to the left. Hard copies of the Emergency Procedures Guide can be found in various locations around campus. If you are in need of a new one or additional copies, please contact EHS.
During a Severe Thunderstorm
Continue to stay informed on local weather. Stay away from windows and avoid large open rooms such as cafeterias, gymnasiums or auditoriums. If prompted to by the BSU Informer System, please quickly proceed to your building’s internal relocation site; internal relocation sites can be found in the Emergency Procedures Guide. If you are outside when a severe thunderstorm hits, quickly get inside a sturdy building. Sheds and storage facilities are not safe. Taking shelter under a tree can be deadly, as the tree could fall on you or put you at greater risk of getting struck by lightning.
If you are caught in a vehicle during a severe thunderstorm, it is safer than being outside; however, if there is sufficient time drive to the closest secure shelter.