The National Weather Service is forecasting a moderate risk for severe weather in the region that includes Arkansas Tech University in Russellville and Ozark from the evening hours on Tuesday, April 4, through the early morning hours on Wednesday, April 5.
Potential hazards include damaging winds, large hail and long-track tornadoes.
Moderate is the second-highest severe weather advisory the National Weather Service may issue.
In the event of a tornado warning Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, the ATU Alert text messaging system will be activated to notify students, faculty and staff of possible danger. Members of the ATU community are encouraged to exercise preparedness by charging their mobile devices before going to sleep Tuesday night and by having multiple means of severe weather notification.
The ATU Department of Residence Life is issuing a communication with building-specific details concerning severe weather preparedness, including safe spaces for sheltering in each residence hall, to residential students.
If the threat of severe weather materializes, McEver Hall classrooms 152, 162 and 172 (located on the south end of the building; commonly referred to as the pit classrooms) will be opened as storm shelters for students living in University Commons apartments and any other on-campus students who need to avail themselves of that resource.
In addition, the Hull Physical Education Building will be activated as a storm shelter for students living in Caraway Hall and any other on-campus students who need to avail themselves of that resource if the severe weather threat comes to pass.
Personnel from the ATU Department of Public Safety will be on hand to assist those seeking shelter in the McEver Hall pit classrooms and the Hull Building. Students with access to reliable shelter locations in their residence halls should plan on utilizing those spaces instead of going to other places on campus. Shelter locations have been specified for the residents of University Commons and Caraway Hall because those two facilities do not have a lowest level advisable for sheltering or an accessible basement.
Faculty, staff and off-campus students in search of a storm shelter on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning may consider resources offered by the Russellville School District (RSD).
According to information released by RSD, safe rooms are located at all elementary schools, Russellville Intermediate School, Russellville Middle School, Russellville Junior High School and Russellville High School. During the school day when students are present, safe room use is limited to the students and staff members in the building. Safe rooms will be full during this time. RSD safe rooms are open to the public after school hours. FEMA suggests that only those persons within a five-minute driving radius try to get to the shelter during a tornado warning.
A complete list of community shelter locations provided by the Pope County Office of Emergency Management is listed at the bottom of this article.
If the severe weather leads to any building issues at Arkansas Tech (including leaks in any ATU facilities), those who discover the issues are asked to contact the ATU Office of Facilities Management at (479) 968-0261 for assistance.
Follow @NWSLittleRock on Twitter and other trusted sources of weather information for updates.
Arkansas Tech students, faculty and staff are encouraged to review the severe weather procedures outlined at www.atu.edu/emergency/emergency-procedures.php.