LAWRENCE — Kansas emergency management organizations and the National Weather Service will conduct their annual Statewide Severe Weather Tornado Drill on at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 3. The University of Kansas will participate in the drill by activating the university’s emergency public address system at that time.
The activation of the KU system will begin with a scripted message indicating “This is a test” and that “no action is required” by KU building occupants. Also at that time, Douglas County Emergency Management will sound tornado sirens across the county, some of which are audible on campus. Once the script is read, the drill will be over.
Commercial broadcast outlets may take part in the drill with test messages. Additionally, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Weather Radios that are set to receive the “TOR” tornado code will activate during the test.
The purpose of the annual Statewide Severe Weather Tornado Drill is to test Douglas County residents’ readiness for life-threatening severe weather events such as tornadoes, flash floods, hail, and damaging winds. Every school, citizen and business in the county is encouraged to participate in the drill by treating it as though it were an actual tornado warning and practicing seeking secure, safe shelter. In the case of inclement weather, the test will be rescheduled for Thursday, March 5.
The test falls during Kansas Severe Weather Awareness Week. Speakers for KU’s public address system have been installed in and around 82 buildings, reaching 98 percent of KU’s academic areas. The buildings comprise the highest concentration of students, faculty and staff.
The public address system is one component of KU’s multi-tiered emergency notification system. Other facets of that emergency notification strategy include:
- Text message alerts: For students, the text message system is “opt-out,” meaning student cell phone numbers are automatically subscribed to this system unless the student unsubscribes. Faculty and staff can sign up at sa.ku.edu.
- Email alerts: The university’s emergency broadcast email system can reach about 33,000 KU e-mail accounts.
- Webpage alerts: The university will use alert.ku.edu as a centralized location for information updates.
- Protocols: The university has established protocols to use local media to help inform the public in the event of an ongoing crisis.
- Workshops: The university hosts various workshops and events related to campus safety.
- Hotline: The university also maintains the 864-SNOW hotline that is activated if bad weather forces the delay or cancelation of classes or the closure of campus.