Be prepared for severe weather



As winter transitions to spring, it’s time to prepare for the possibility of tornadoes and severe thunderstorms. St. Joseph County will test outdoor sirens Tuesday, March 16, at 10:15 a.m. as part of Severe Weather Preparedness Week. It will be similar to how sirens are tested the first Thursday of every month at 11:30 a.m.

Tornadoes are violent and can demolish well-made structures, uproot trees and hurl heavy objects through the air. During a tornado warning, the University will issue NDAlert messages when campus is threatened. The county will activate outdoor warning sirens and local media and the federal Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) program will broadcast the warning.

What to do if a tornado warning has sounded:

  • Move immediately to safe shelter in the nearest substantial building.
  • Go to the basement for the best protection. If you cannot get to a basement, go to an interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible.
  • Avoid windows, large rooms, auditoriums or gymnasiums.
  • In a high-rise building, pick a hallway in the center of the building. You may not have enough time to go to the lowest floor.
  • Put as many walls as possible between you and the outside, when feasible.
  • Get under sturdy furniture.
  • Crouch as low as possible to the floor, facing down and cover your head with your hands.
  • Faculty, staff and students should remain in a safe location until advised that it is safe to return to work or study areas when the tornado or severe weather has passed. An all clear will be broadcast via local media and through the NDAlert public address system.

What is the difference between a watch and a warning?

A watch is less severe than a warning. A thunderstorm watch means that damaging winds and hail are expected. It often precedes the issuance of a tornado watch. A tornado watch means that conditions are favorable for the development of tornadoes. 

A tornado warning means a tornado has been sighted, either visually or on radar and is in our area. When a tornado warning is issued by the National Weather Service, the St. Joseph County Civil Defense tornado warning system will activate the siren located near the Notre Dame Fire Department. If you hear the siren, please move to a safe shelter.

For tornadoes, the siren issues a steady tone for three to five minutes. The siren will not issue an all clear. All clear signals are issued by the National Weather Service via local AM/FM radio and television station announcements and NDAlert public address system. Warning sirens are tested at 11:30 a.m. on the first Thursday of the month and consist of a one-minute steady tone, one minute of silence and a one-minute wailing tone.

For more information visit the following websites or contact the Office of Campus Safety via email at Click for a tornado safety checklist or for more information on tornadoes or how to prepare for a tornado.