Coming months mark start of tornado season

Ben Jackson

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According to the National Weather Service’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Storm Prediction Center, tornado season is defined as “the peak period for historical tornado reports in an area, when averaged over the history of reports.” According to the SPC, tornado season in the area surrounding the Gulf Coast typically occurs earlier in the spring while it occurs later in the year in the more northern areas of the United States.

In 2014, the highest number of tornado-related fatalities in the U.S. occurred during the months of April, May and June, which is considered to be the most common time for tornadoes to occur.

“The safety and well-being of our students is one of our highest priorities at the University of Alabama,” reads one of the University’s weather preparedness guides. The guide, available at, is one of many online resources to provide students with access to information regarding severe weather and 
other disasters.

The University of Alabama Police Department is equipped to respond to a wide array of disasters and can be contacted in the event of any concern.

The University also updates students on dangerous weather conditions using email and phone alerts.

“The most important thing for students is being sure they have a good way of getting tornado warnings,” said James Spann, the chief meteorologist at Birmingham’s ABC 33/40 and a popular choice for weather reports, especially during times of 
severe weather. “The standard smart phone apps are not warning apps, we prefer ‘WeatherRadio by WDT’ and ‘MyWarn.’ Those are extremely reliable and allow you to choose the warnings 
you receive.”

Spann added that while most cellphones are capable of receiving government alerts through government-issued Wireless Emergency Alerts, his team is not fully confident in their reliability 
and recommends apps as reliable 
warning tools.

The official University severe weather guidelines are available at ( and advise students on campus procedure in the event of 
severe weather.

“Every student needs to know where they are going if they are in a tornado warning polygon,” said Spann, adding to the University suggestions which, while applicable to all Tuscaloosa residents, are aimed toward students living or working on campus. “Those on second floor apartments have to get down on the lowest floor. The keys are small rooms like bathrooms, hallways and closets on the lowest floor, near the center of the house or apartment and away from windows.”

For more information or questions regarding severe weather preparedness at The University of Alabama, students should visit