Dangerous weather looms but classes are still in session

Tornado Warnings on Wednesday weren’t enough to cancel the day’s classes or close campus

Snapshot of first alert from FAU's official Twitter page.

Snapshot of first alert from FAU's official Twitter page.

Patrick Martin and Ryan Lynch

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Dark clouds hover over the Florida Atlantic campus, cautioning students to be weary. Commuters to the school are stuck in hours-long traffic and the possibility of a tornado is imminent, but classes still aren’t cancelled.

The emergency management system issues warnings to stay inside on the first floor, but the alerts usually don’t come in time and the danger of being in bad weather is already present.

Amanda Heinrich, junior psychology major, lives in Pompano. She commutes to the Boca Raton campus almost every day.

During hazardous weather conditions, she’s torn when classes aren’t cancelled.

“I sometimes have to make the decision whether I’ll risk my life to go,” she said.

The FAU Department of Emergency Management says during a tornado warning to “take shelter if you see or hear a tornado or threatening weather approaching. There may not be time for an official warning,” on its website.

What the department fails to say is when classes are cancelled. There is a web page to see if classes are scheduled, but no real definition for what will actually cancel class.

Ana Bastias, spokesperson for the department, said that her division doesn’t have the power to cancel classes. Only the executive leadership, comprised mostly of school administrators, can do that.

Bastias said the warnings are good but she recommends checking on the National Weather Service too, especially if you are a commuter.

“It’s very difficult for us to send an alert when we don’t know where the person is commuting from,” she said.

The warnings are specific to the FAU campuses, Bastias said.

FAU sent out its warning at 10:55 a.m., nearly an hour and a half after initial reports of the tornado were made.

The university sent out a second alert at 12:30 p.m., telling students the tornado watch was still in effect.

They have yet to announce the end of the warning through an alert.

As for whether or not students have to attend classes: It’s a case-by-case basis, dependent on the college and professor.