In 2018, Beltrami County, where Bemidji State University is located experienced 5 tornadoes; thankfully there were no major injuries or property damage. Tornadoes can occur at any time of day or night and at any time of the year. Minnesota’s tornado season is typically May through September. Below is information on how to stay safe during a Tornado.
Watch vs. Warning
- Tornado Watch: Be Prepared! Tornadoes are possible in and near the watch area. Review and discuss your office/department emergency plans. Be ready to act quickly if a warning is issued or you suspect a tornado is approaching. Acting early helps to save lives! Watches are issued by the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center for counties where tornadoes may occur. The watch area is typically large, covering numerous counties or even states.
- Tornado Warning: Take Action! A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. There is imminent danger to life and property. Move to an interior room on the lowest floor of a sturdy building.. Avoid windows. If in a mobile home, a vehicle, or outdoors, move to the closest substantial shelter and protect yourself from flying debris. Warnings are issued by your local forecast office. Warnings typically encompass a much smaller area (around the size of a small city or small county) that may be impacted by a tornado identified 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 Tornado
Once informed of a tornado warning or 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. Stay away from windows and do not go to large open rooms such as cafeterias, gymnasiums, or auditoriums. If you are outside, seek shelter inside a sturdy building immediately. Sheds and storage facilities are not safe. Being in a vehicle during a tornado is not safe. The best course of action is to drive to the closest shelter. If you are unable to make it to a safe shelter, either get down in your car and cover your head, or abandon you car and seek shelter in a low lying area such as a ditch or ravine. A bridge underpass is not a safe place to take shelter during a tornado.