A woman’s voice rang through the UCM campus’ PA system issuing a tornado warning from the National Weather Service around 1:30pm Tuesday March 21. Students & faculty were warned to seek shelter inside and to avoid going outside until the warning was over. Hearing a tornado warning in California caused a lot of confusion, as many students of UCM are from in-state. On average, only about 10.6 tornados touch down on California soil every year, so it was shocking to hear about a potential tornado in general, let alone on our small campus.
However, despite the rarity of California tornadoes, people on campus seemed to ignore the warning to seek shelter and began to start taking pictures of the sky or even continued to walk up the hill to go to class. One student, Eric Lebish shared his response to the tornado warning, “I was tutoring at the time–we just kind of laughed at it a little bit and kept going with the session. We never had a tornado drill [before], what exactly are we supposed to do?” It’s true that we don’t practice tornado drills in elementary school in California. We are so accustomed to earthquakes and fires that tornadoes are of little concern. However, the PA warning system told us to seek shelter indoors away from windows. UCM Police Department was also seen driving up and down the hill warning students and staff to find shelter indoors away from windows. Another student, Minerva Solano, followed the tornado protocol quite well, she shared, “I took a nap. I just got the warning on my phone and was just like, okay?”
The tornado warning was issued after two funnel clouds were detected north of Turlock. The clouds could be seen over the field between campus and Yosemite Lake at around 2:00pm. Despite the darkened sky, heavy winds, and the funnel clouds, no tornado actually touched down. Nevertheless, the tornado warning made for an exciting Tuesday.
Picture Credits: Lucy Bautista & DeVaughn Ogles