Michigan is hit by an average of 16 tornados each year, usually between May and August, according to the National Weather Service.

While the state had a near average number of tornadoes last year, it was the lightning, severe thunderstorm wind and hail, and flooding that was responsible for one of the most damaging severe weather seasons in Michigan’s history.

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As part of Michigan Severe Weather Awareness week, April 12-18, university officials would like to remind members of the campus community about important information to help plan for and respond to various weather situations.

Community members are encouraged to follow these safety tips from the Division of Public Safety and Security and College of Engineering’s Atmospheric Oceanic and Space Sciences Department:

• Sign up for UM Emergency Alerts. Messages are delivered when a tornado warning has been issued for our county.

The UM Emergency Alert system delivers urgent updates via e-mail, text and phone calls. Individuals can register up to two phone numbers to receive phone call notifications and one number to receive text messages to ensure they are always kept up to date. Registration is available on the university’s Emergency Alert website.

• Know the difference between a storm “watch” and a storm ‘”warning.” A storm “watch” means that conditions are favorable to produce severe weather, but that it has not yet occurred. A storm “warning” means that severe weather, such as a thunderstorm or tornado, has been detected in the area and people should seek immediate shelter to protect themselves. Read a more detailed explanation of various storm definitions.

• If you are outdoors and hear the warning sirens, immediately seek shelter indoors and monitor local media outlets for official information.

The City of Ann Arbor sirens are intended to be heard by those outdoors throughout the city, including the U-M campus, to warn people to take indoor shelter.  Typically, the county sirens are not audible in many on-campus locations.

When wind speeds are greater than 70 mph, the city of Ann Arbor will activate the sirens.

• Different types of severe weather warrant different types of shelter, but for severe thunderstorms and tornados, the safest shelter is an interior hallway or small interior room on the lowest level of the building, away from windows and glass.

When severe weather strikes, strike back by moving your activities to a safe, indoor location.
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