Evening classes canceled due to weather; Moffett, CSC to remain open

The Wichitan

4:03 p.m. The National Weather Service issued a tornado watch for Wichita County until 11 p.m.

3:39 p.m. Patrick Coggins, chief of police, was part of the decision-making process to close campus. He said since campus “rush hour” is from around 4:30-6 p.m. when students are leaving campus or on their way for night classes, administration and the police department wanted to be proactive in the decision to shut campus down.

“We’re erring on the side of caution based on predictions from the National Weather Service,” Coggins said. “The weather may ultimately skirt us, but we have to operate with what information is given by the National Weather Service.”

Coggins also made suggestions if a tornado does hit campus.

“Get inside a building and go to the center, away from windows close to the wall and close to the ground,” Coggins said. “There’s no designated shelter per se, but we don’t want our students and employees out on the streets if the storm hits.”

Police officers and dispatchers will still be on campus tonight.

3:10 p.m. Reactions from staff and students in Clark Student Center

  • Elizabeth Cathcart, marketing sophomore – “I am really concerned about the geese around the lake.”
  • Natalie McLaurin, exercise physiology sophomore – “The tornado knew I had a test coming up that I’m not prepared for and gave me time to study.”
  • Morgan Sinlcair, sociology sophomore – “Hell yes! I’m excited because I don’t have to go to geology lab.”
  • Kylee Gorney, nursing sophomore – “It will be funny if the weather doesn’t actually get bad.”
  • Kyle Keel, political science lecturer: “It’s better to be safe than sorry, and to look after people’s health”.
  • Angela Dees, kinesiology junior – “Jesus used the power of nature to save me from my lab.”
  • Ana Lopez, exercise physiology graduate student – “Glad I don’t get to see the big F on my midterm.”

3:05 p.m. Cindy Ashlock, executive assistant to the president, said that the President’s cabinet — which includes all vice presidents, interim provost, marketing and public information director, and general counsel — met earlier today to discuss the severe weather watches for Wichita County issued by the National Weather Service.

“We received word that there might be a storm this afternoon, so [Keith] Lamb checked with [Patrick] Coggins about closing campus,” Ashlock said. “We wanted to keep the campus community safe.”

The decision was made right after lunch to give administration time to check on the latest weather update.

“The last lab gets out at 2:50 p.m. and the National Weather Service indicated the severe weather starting around 4 p.m. We based the decision off of class schedules and the weather report,” Ashlock said. “The weather can change on a dime, so it may or may not actually happen, but we wanted to be on the safe side.”

Ashlock added that both Moffett Library and Clark Student Center will remain open tonight.

Suzanne Shipley, university president, did not make herself available for comment.

2:48 p.m. Student reaction from students in Legacy Hall.

  • William Aprams, sophomore early childhood – “I don’t have any class after so it doesn’t effect me. I’m fine with it.”
  • Jeffery Hamon, sophomore athletic physiology – “I’m excited about it. I don’t have to go to chemistry.”
  • Dillon Pineda, sophomore biology pre-med – “I feel that the administration is doing the best they can to protect everyone.”
  • Sarah Kennedy, sophomore geoscience – “It’s smart but it was a little inconvenient since people had advising appointments and they have to reschedule now.”

Reporters are getting more info on class cancelation, student reaction. Should classes have been canceled tonight? https://t.co/Av2HKh9vho

— MSU Wichitan Online (@WichitanOnline) March 28, 2017

Torando cut wide path of destruction throug Wichita Falls homes and apartments. Dallas Times Herald photo by Mark Perlstein

2:31 p.m.: Housing residents reminded of procedure during severe weather via email from Norma Ramirez, assistant director of student life, last night at 5:27 p.m.

Dear Legacy Hall Residents,

As we approach serve weather season, we would like to remind you of weather safety procedures and steps you can take to ensure your safety. Please read this information carefully as it contains information about how to determine the different warnings that may be issued as well as specific procedures for your building.

Actions to Take:

  •  Please be aware of any severe weather that is in the area.
  •  Understand the differences of the types of weather that will take place.
  •  Make sure that you are registered with MSU Alert. You must opt in for the texting feature. https://mwsu.edu/msualert/
  •  Be aware of the procedure in your building.

Types of Weather Alerts:

  •  Thunderstorm Watch: This will be issued by the National Weather Service when conditions are favorable for the development of a severe thunderstorm and close to the watch area.
  •  Thunderstorm Warning: An alert issued when trained storm spotters or a Doppler weather radar indicate that a thunderstorm is producing or will soon produce dangerously large hail or high winds speeds, capable of causing significant damage.
  •  Tornado Watch: Will be issued when weather conditions are favorable for the development of severe thunderstorms called a Supercell that are capable of producing a tornado.
  •  Tornado Warning: A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather, TAKE COVER.

Legacy Hall Protocol:

  •  2nd floor residents seek shelter in restrooms located in the center of each 2nd floor community.
  •  3rd, 4th, and 5th floor residents seek shelter in each of the residential hallways on the 2nd floor. Stay away from open areas with large glass.
  •  RAs will sound air horns (if possible) for residents to take shelter.
  •  Please do not go outside during severe weather.

2:27 p.m.: Read about tornado outbreak in 1979: “Wichita Falls Resembled a City Ravaged by War” by Cooper Miller

2:24 p.m.: Still no weather alerts for Wichita County. Weather from Channel 3.

2:20 p.m.: Director of Marketing and Public information Julie Gaynor: Moffett Library will remain open.

2:15 p.m.: Gaynor said senior administrators decided that closing the campus at 3 p.m. was a logical choice for students that  come into town for evening classes so they would not have to leave town or campus during severe weather.

2 p.m.: Public information office issued a tweet stating that evening classes are canceled due to potentially severe weather.

Reporting by Justin Marquart, Kara McIntyre, Stephen Gomez, Bridget Reilly and Arianna Davis.