Tornadoes are not on the list of hazards that concern most people at UCCS. But when “Tornado Timmy” lectured on emergency preparedness to PESA members at their April 19 meeting, tornadoes came into the discussion.
“Tornado Timmy” is better known on campus as Tim Stoecklein, associate director, UCCS Recreation Center. He and Steve Linhart, director, Office of Emergency Management, gave PESA members an overview of things to know in the event of a campus emergency.
“Be informed” was their basic advice. Most casualties during a natural disaster or man-made situation are the result of people just not knowing pertinent information. Severe weather conditions, for example, are tracked by the National Weather Service and local news media. It takes little effort to find weather information via radio, television, or internet, and to prepare for what’s predicted.
Many of the possible hazards that could occur on campus are weather-related, the pair said. Snow accumulation, ice and freezing temperatures commonly have variable effects on campus. Linhart noted that sub-zero temperatures mandated a campus closure this past winter. Extreme wind, hail, flooding, lightning strikes and fire resulting from lightning have considerable potential for harm, but knowing what to expect lets a person stay out of harm’s way. Spring brings changing weather, so severe weather awareness is especially important this time of year. And while tornadoes are not commonly considered an imminent threat at UCCS, Stoecklein shared some personal information and knowledge of tornadoes with the PESA audience.
Stoecklein is, when time allows, a storm chaser. He is one of a group of people who actively follow emerging weather conditions to gather data on weather patterns to assist in predicting what weather conditions may occur in a given time and place. Stoecklein began chasing storms, lightning and high wind phenomena on the Kansas plains before moving to Colorado and gaining knowledge of weather activity here.
He told the group these facts about tornadoes:
- For four of the past five years, Colorado has ranked among the top five states where tornadoes occurred.
- The greatest threat of tornadoes in Colorado is from May through August.
- 90 percent of tornadoes occur between 1 p.m. and 9 p.m.
- Most Colorado tornadoes occur east of Interstate Highway 25.
Other information Stoecklein and Linhart shared involved groups charged with emergency response on campus. UCCS Public Safety is the primary agency responsible for assessing threats or hazards, responding to such situations directly, and issuing warnings and instructions to the campus. The Leadership Team is the core of an emergency operations group that decides if measures such as closure or a lock down should be enacted. There is a student response team and a faculty/staff response team that deal with student and faculty/staff issues respectively and these groups may take on special duties in emergency situations.
Emergencies can happen any time, without warning, Linhart said. Effects can be mitigated if people prepare. Keeping an emergency kit of useful tools and supplies is advisable, he said, but knowing what resources are available and becoming familiar with all available information is the first step.
Linhart and Stoecklein will be making an emergency preparedness presentation for all UCCS personnel in a campus forum scheduled for 2 p.m. May 2 in the University Theater.
Linhart advised people on campus to visit the UCCS Public Safety Emergency Preparedness web site at www.uccs.edu/~pusafety/emerplan/. He said www.ready.gov was among web sites with valuable general information on disaster preparation and creating emergency kits.
Stoecklein’s weather web site is www.tornadotimmy.com