Tornadoes are violent acts of nature capable of completely destroying well-made structures, uprooting trees, and hurling objects through the air like deadly missiles. A tornado is a violently rotating column of air extending from the base of a thunderstorm down to the ground. Tornado intensities are classified on the Fujita Scale with ratings between F0 (weakest) to F5 (strongest). Although severe tornadoes are more common in states across the Plains, tornadoes have been reported in every state.

Tornado warning v. tornado watch
  • Tornado warning – A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. There is imminent danger to life and property. An emergency notification will be announced using overhead paging, where available, and text messaging for those whom have registered for text service. Persons are advised to take immediate shelter.
  • Tornado watch – Conditions are favorable for a tornado to occur in and near the watch area. Persons should review and discuss emergency plans and be ready to act quickly in the event of a tornado warning.
Prior to an emergency
  • Be aware of designated shelter area locations.
  • Supervisors and instructors should inform employees and students of designated shelter areas.
  • ATSU is committed to protecting students, faculty, staff, and guests from all types of hazardous weather including, but not limited to, tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, lightning, extreme heat, and winter weather. ATSU encourages all students, faculty, staff, and guests to be aware of changing weather and prepared to take appropriate safety precautions, as needed, for their specific location.
  • The National Weather Service (NWS) provides alert and warning information through and maintains a listing of third-party sources that can deliver email and SMS weather alerts to individual subscribers’ smartphone and electronic devices. Visit for additional information.
  • Since 2012, most cell phones are equipped with Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA), which are free, text-like notifications that inform their subscribers of a dangerous situation – manmade or natural disasters – where you happen to be. In 90-characters or less, WEA states who is sending the alert, what is happening, whom is affected, and what action to take.
Upon receipt of an emergency notification
  • Supervisors and instructors should lead employees and students to a designated shelter area, if possible.
  • Be aware of persons with disabilities who may require help and assess the possibility of providing assistance, if it can be done safely. If necessary, persons with disabilities should move to or be moved to a designated stairwell landing and wait for assistance by trained first responders.
  • All persons should move to the lowest level of a building, to an inner room, or hall with no exterior windows.
  • All persons located outdoors should seek shelter indoors immediately.
  • Avoid areas where flying debris may occur.
  • If a tornado is imminent, persons should take one of two positions. The preferred position is kneeling with the head between the knees facing a wall; the other is seated on the floor with back to the wall. Staying low will reduce potential from injuries from flying debris.
  • If available, some form of covering should be used to protect heads, arms, and legs. Otherwise, cover head with arms.
  • Remain in place until “all clear” is given by ATSU notification, emergency personnel, or trusted media source.

Kirksville and Mesa Emergency Numbers


Security Emergency and non-emergency 
(On Campus) ext. 33
(Off Campus) 1-660-349-9513

Kirksville Police: 
(On Campus) Dial 9-911 
(Off Campus) Dial 911


Security Office: *7 from any campus phone
Switchboard : 0 
Security Phone: 480-341-9075

Security *Emergencies Only*
(On Campus) *7 from any campus phone

Mesa Police: 
(On Campus) Dial 911 
(Off Campus) Dial 911