Tornado Procedures

This page provides information on the University's severe weather siren and procedures for responding to a tornado, as well as additional resource material.

Severe Weather Siren

The University has a severe weather siren that is located on campus and is activated by the Office of Campus Safety. The siren is capable of producing one type of siren tone and is tested monthly on the first Sunday of the month at noon.

During the monthly test, the siren is sounded for a short period of time, typically for 15-20 seconds. When the siren is sounded during an emergency, it will continue to sound for three minutes at a time.

As the siren can only produce one type of siren tone, it is only used to notify the campus of severe weather that would require individuals to take shelter. The most common cause for activating the siren would be when a tornado warning has been issued for our area. 

The campus should be aware that there are three different sirens that may be heard in our area:

  • University’s severe weather siren
  • Village of Berrien Springs siren
    • Tested daily at noon
    • Activated for severe weather requiring shelter (primarily tornadoes)
  • DC Cook Nuclear Plant emergency sirens
    • Tested monthly and annually
      • Monthly: On the first Saturday of the month at 1:00 p.m. their siren sounds for less than one minute (except in April).
      • Annually: On the first Saturday of April at 1:00 p.m. the siren sounds for three minutes.
    • Approximately 70 sirens located within a 10 mile radius of the DC Cook Nuclear Plant.
    • Activated for a serious emergency affecting sections of Berrien County. Emergencies can include:
      • Nuclear accident
      • Chemical spill
      • Weather emergency
      • Other possible dangerous conditions

Tornado Procedures

Severe weather alerts are issued by the local forecast office of the National Weather Service. Specifically for tornados, two types of alerts can be issued:

  • Watch: The weather conditions are possible for a tornado to occur and individuals should ensure that they can receive further alerts and are prepared to take action.
  • Warning: A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. Individuals need to take action and seek shelter.

The campus is encouraged to familiarize themselves with appropriate shelter locations prior to an emergency.

When a tornado warning is issued that directly affects the campus, the University will take the following action:

  • The Office of Campus Safety will direct the campus to take shelter through activation of the severe weather siren and sending an AU Alert message.
    • Note that for an emergency activation of the siren, it will sound for three minutes at a time.
  • The AU Alert message will be sent via textmessage, phone call, email, and posts to the University’s website and social media accounts (Facebook/Twitter).
    • Text verbiage: “AU ALERT: A tornado warning has been issued. Take shelter immediately. Move to a small, lower level, interior room. Avoid windows, doors, and exterior walls.”
    • Email verbiage: “AU ALERT: A tornado warning has been issued. Take shelter immediately. Move to a small, lower level, interior room. Avoid windows, doors, and exterior walls. Remain sheltered until warning has expired or "ALL CLEAR" alert has been issued.”
  • The campus should take shelter and remain sheltered until the warning has expired or an “ALL CLEAR” has been issued through AU Alert.
  • The campus should take caution while leaving their place of shelter. Be aware of damage to buildings or utilities (electric/gas lines).
  • If there is an emergency, contact 911 if possible or call out for help.


Resource Material

AU Alert - Tornado 
National Weather Service - Tornado 
DC Cook Nuclear Plant’s Emergency Plan