On the night of June 11, 2008, an EF4 tornado tore through the Kansas State University campus, uprooting large elm trees, shooting cars across parking lots and causing more than $20 million in damage to buildings. Thanks to prompt emergency response, no one attending or teaching the 30 summer-school classes there was seriously injured.
As this springtime storm season approaches, a group of MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources students is helping Mizzou become more storm-ready.
Students in the Department of Soils, Environmental and Atmospheric Sciences are working to make MU the first university in mid-Missouri to become certified as "storm ready" by the National Weather Service (NWS).
In order to be considered for the certification, universities must create an awareness of possible severe weather situations and also develop an efficient and effective plan of action.
According to the NWS, each applicant must:
- develop a 24-hour warning point and emergency operations center;
- have more than one way to receive severe weather warnings and forecasts;
- create a system that monitors local weather conditions;
- develop a formal hazardous-weather plan that includes training severe-weather spotters and holding emergency exercises; and
- promote the importance of public readiness through community seminars.
"Thousands of people are affected every single year by severe weather. Several of these cases could be avoided easily if individuals were better informed and prepared for hazardous situations," said Brittany Perrin, senior atmospheric science major and creator of the Campus Weather Service student organization.
"The University of Missouri is located right in the middle of the country, where the most severe storms are recorded each year. It is time for Mizzou to gain this certification and become one step closer to being prepared for harsh weather, while keeping our campus safe."
As a certified storm-ready institution, MU will be able to assist in county, statewide and regional community outreach, including educational weather seminars and alert systems.
Fellow atmospheric-science majors and Campus Weather Service members Justin Titus and Ben Herzog assisted Perrin with MU's certification.
The purpose of the Campus Weather Service, a branch of the meteorology club, is to introduce an interactive experience to students through the production of two daily campus weather forecasts, which are posted on the organization's Web site, as well as audio forecasts for local radio stations.
MU Soils, Environmental and Atmospheric Science students shown in top feature mast photo: Ben Herzog, a junior from St. Louis; Brittany Perrin, senior from Lee's Summit; and Justin Titus, a senior from Billings, Mo.