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Mississippi Twisters: Dixie Alley

We all know Kansas is tornado territory thanks to the girl in ruby slippers following the yellow brick road. Although the midwest United States is known as Tornado Alley, the deep south is also a tornado host. Meteorologists have nicknamed this southern section “Dixie Alley”. It stretches across the eastern edges of Texas and Arkansas through Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia.

The University of Mississippi is always prepared for the worst with a strategic system to keep your children safe from tornadoes while on campus. Up-to-date directions and information is available at, the authoritative and official source for information on dangerous weather situations.

The official signals to indicate Tornado Warnings are strategically placed sirens that can be heard throughout the campus. Every Wednesday at noon, the Tornado Warning sirens are tested on campus and in the city of Oxford. The test lasts for thirty seconds. In the event that the siren sounds on a Wednesday morning for longer than thirty seconds, you should initiate tornado protection procedures. Sirens are not tested during a Tornado Watch or threatening weather.

It’s important to understand the differences between a Tornado Watch and a Tornado Warning. A Tornado Watch means weather conditions are favorable for the formation of a tornado. If a Tornado Watch is in action, move inside a building and stay calm. Listen for sirens, which indicates a warning and continue to check local weather for updates.

A Tornado Warning means that a tornado has actually been sighted by spotters or indicated on radar and is occurring or imminent in the warning area. Under no circumstances should you be outside during a Tornado Warning. All university activities are automatically suspended when the sirens sound. This includes classes, meetings and laboratories. At the first sound of a siren you should seek shelter immediately on the lowest level and toward the center of a building away from windows. Remain there until the Tornado Warning has expired.

According to the University of Mississippi emergency information, classes in session when a Tornado Warning is issued can resume immediately after the warning has expired at the discretion of the instructor. Classes that have not yet begun will resume 30 minutes after the Tornado Warning has expired provided at least half of the class period remains.

You and your Ole Miss student should consider signing up for REBALERT messages, an emergency text message notification service available to UM employees, students and parents. These alerts send instantaneous information and instruction directly to your cell phone to maintain safety on campus. To register to receive REBALERT notifications, simply save your cell phone number in myOleMiss.

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