By Tradd Mills, Emergency Management Coordinator
The tornadoes across the Midwest this week are vivid reminders that we should always be vigilant and well-prepared. After all, Texas leads the nation with an average of 137 tornadoes each year, and more than 60 percent of those storms occur from April to June.
While College Station has had its share of funnel clouds and tornado scares over the years, we’ve managed to escape any loss of life or catastrophic damage. But recent history proves that dangerous tornadoes can happen almost anywhere.
Brazos County residents were fortunate to avoid the tornado that ripped through our neighbors in Madisonville last year, causing significant damage. And just four years ago, a strong tornado in Franklin destroyed much of the town.
Both communities are within 40 miles of Brazos County.
Even closer to home, Bryan has had two destructive tornadoes in recent years. In 2019, an EF-2 twister damaged several buildings and severely injured a man east of town. In 2016, an EF-1 tornado battered several neighborhoods along a two-mile path, damaging more than 150 homes.
But tornadoes aren’t limited to the spring and summer.
In December 2006, a twister moved south to north for five miles across central College Station and did considerable damage along FM2818, Southwest Parkway, and Texas Avenue. The National Weather Service rated that tornado as an EF-1 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale, with 110 miles per hour winds.
It’s essential to know how to prepare and react. These links provide in-depth information about what to do before, during, and after a tornado:
- American Red Cross
- National Weather Service
- Videos: What to do Before, During, and After a tornado
College Station doesn’t have outdoor tornado sirens, so when severe weather approaches, pay close attention to local radio and television stations. They do an excellent job of providing pertinent information, including tornado watches and warnings issued by the National Weather Service.
In an emergency, always listen to the instructions given by local emergency management officials. If a violent storm approaches or strikes the Bryan-College Station area, these are the best ways to monitor events and get timely information:
- Own a NOAA Weather Radio: The radio’s alarm tone will automatically activate when the NOAA National Weather Service issues a warning. NOAA Weather Radio is also available as a smartphone app.
- Monitor local television and radio stations: They broadcast Emergency Alert System messages, watches and warnings, and other vital information.
- Brazos County Emergency Notification System: The “Code Red” system notifies citizens of local emergencies that occur day or night on their cell phones and landlines. To register your mobile phone number to receive notifications, go to brazosceoc.org/alerts.
- Code Maroon: To register to receive Texas A&M’s Code Maroon alerts by email or text message, go to codemaroon.tamu.edu.
- Blogs: City of College Station, Community Emergency Operations Center.
- Twitter: City of College Station (@Cityof CS), City of Bryan (@CityofBryan), Texas A&M Code Maroon (@TAMUCodeMaroon).
- Facebook: Brazos County Community Emergency Operations Center, City of College Station, City of Bryan.
- Websites: City of College Station Emergency Management, Brazos County Department of Emergency Management, City of Bryan Emergency Management, Texas A&M Emergency Management, Federal Emergency Management Agency, NOAA Storm Prediction Center, American Red Cross.
Recommended Mobile Apps
Some useful mobile apps are available for smartphones and tablets, and many have emergency alert capabilities. Here are some recommended apps you can find in your favorite app store:
- Tornado: American Red Cross
- NOAA Radar & Weather Forecast
- Storm Tracker
- Storm Radar: Weather Tracker
- Tornado Free
Just because tornadoes are relatively rare in our area doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be vigilant and well-prepared. Tornadoes are nature’s most violent storms, and we should always stand ready to handle whatever comes our way.
About the Blogger
Tradd Mills is in his third year as the city’s emergency management coordinator after two years as an assistant fire chief with the College Station Fire Department. Tradd previously served two years as a CSFD division chief after more than 11 years with the Burton (S.C.) Fire District. He earned a degree in Public Safety Administration from Kaiser University in 2016.
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