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Kan. in midst of tornado season

With tornado season in Kansas being from March to early June, students at Emporia State may not be as prepared as they might think in the event of severe weather.

“I have seen the maps, like in case of fire, in case of a tornado, where they have the red line,” said Hannah Lowe, freshman communication major. “I think there’s a blue line for a tornado. I’ve seen those – kind of a map of where to go.”

Lowe lives in the dormitories on campus. She said recently a flyer was posted right above the buttons for the elevators.

“It basically says…what to do, like don’t talk, make sure you’re with your RA, have closed-toe shoes on, take your phone, keys, Hornet card,” Lowe said.

Katie Norman, freshman crime and delinquency major, who also lives in the dormitories, said they have little warnings around the dorms, but no one has ever talked about the specific tornado procedures.

Emporia is a historically tornado-active area because of two tornadoes that happened here. City-date.com recorded a category F4 tornado that touched down on June 8, 1974. The tornado left six people dead and 177 injured. On May 20, 1957 a category F5 tornado touched down 37 miles from the city center, killing 44 people and injuring 207.

A tornado watch is issued when the weather is favorable to have severe thunderstorms that could produce tornados. If there is an indication on radar for formations of tornados, the tornado watch is upgraded to a tornado warning. A warning may also be issued if a tornado or funnel cloud has been spotted. If there are significant tornado occurrences in highly populated areas, it is upgraded to a tornado emergency.

Most people know about the funnel clouds that tornadoes often appear as, the sky that turns dark and almost greenish, the wind dying and the air becoming still, that sometimes happens before the tornado strikes, and the roar similar to a freight train. However, there are other signs that people may not know about.

“(There may be) strong rotation in the cloud base…Whirling dust or debris on the ground under a cloud base – tornadoes sometimes have no funnel,” said Roger Edwards from the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla. “Hail or heavy rain, followed by either dead calm or a fast intense wind shift. Many tornadoes are wrapped in heavy precipitation and can’t be seen.”

Experts agree that knowing where tornado safety areas are is important. Several buildings on campus, such as Cremer Hall, have signs in the hallway, telling where these zones are in the building.

“(In the dorms), we go to the laundry room downstairs…And then the obvious, get down, cover the back of your neck. You know, the typical things they teach you like in elementary school,” Lowe said.

Norman said she would “freak out” if a tornado came near.

“I guess I would just like have to be in the situation, and just kind of like have to decide what to do in the moment,” Norman said.

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