UMD alert: Tornado “forecast to strike the campus” UPDATE: All clear

7:17 p.m.: The university just sent an “all-clear” text, but also said to “disregard further alerts for the time being.” Not sure why, but it could be to prevent people getting the alert texts out of order from misunderstanding the situation.

7:08 p.m.: The latest predicted tornado deadline has come and gone with no reports of any tornado activity. Still heavy rain, thunder. Capital Weather Gang still adamant that there isn’t a lot to worry about right now. We just received a report that the South Campus Dining Hall has stopped serving food but will not let students out.

6:59 p.m.: The Washington Post‘s Capital Weather Gang just tweeted “We are still unsure why sirens are sounding near UMD. There are NO active tornado warnings right now, and it’s been that way for some time.”

6:56 p.m.: Editor Kara Rose just tweeted that ShuttleUM, the campus bus system, has been shut down.

Students in the basement of La Plata Hall were told "this is not a drill" and to stay away from the windows.

6:51 p.m.: The campus emergency siren has gone off for the fourth time in 30 minutes, and the university as sent another text saying “A tornado is forecast to strike the campus within the next 10 minutes.”

In addition, Diamondback editor Kara Rose just tweeted “students not being let out of the dorms on #UMD campus. students of La Plata Hall are taking shelter in the basement. #tornado

6:41 p.m.: The Washington Post just tweeted “Re: UMD warning questions. None active from NWS. Maybe some weak rotation crossing into NW DC, but again.. no current warnings in DC area.”

University Police spokesman Capt. Marc Limansky told staff writer Erin Egan that University Police sent the text alert after getting a warning from the AccuWeather data service that said a thunderstorm had evolved into a tornado, and that they considered it likely that the system would pass over the campus in the next few minutes.

6:33 p.m.: We’ll keep updating as information become available, but all we know right now is that the university just sent a text alert to students saying that “a tornado is forecast to strike the campus within the next 13 minutes. Seek shelter immediately.” It’s not clear how officials have predicted this.

In addition, the campus emergency siren went off at about 6:27 (and again at 6:35) , an hour after the National Weather Service issued a tornado watch for Prince George’s County.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has very specific tornado instructions:

Go to a pre-designated shelter area such as a safe room, basement, storm cellar, or the lowest building level. If there is no basement, go to the center of an interior room on the lowest level (closet, interior hallway) away from corners, windows, doors, and outside walls. Put as many walls as possible between you and the outside. Get under a sturdy table and use your arms to protect your head and neck. Do not open windows.

You can also check out Campus Drive on Facebook and on Twitter at @theDBK.

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