What the hail?

How to prepare for stormy weather

Part one of a two-part series.

Spring means many things to North Texans, from planting flowers to cleaning house. Severe weather is another hot topic that comes to mind as the weather changes.

North Central Texas is prone to flooding, hailstorms, strong winds, thunderstorms and even tornadoes. In Texas, the severe weather season begins in late February and ends in early June.

Severe storms can happen any time of the year, but they are more frequent in North Texas in the spring.

Some examples of tornadoes striking at unusual times include the weak tornado that hit Grand Prairie in January 2017 and torrential rain-causing floods over two weeks in October 2018.

As North Texas approaches the season for stormy weather, students at Richland need to know where to turn when the weather turns bad.

“There’s different things you can do, depending where you’re at [on campus],” DCCCD Patrol Officer Francisco Arreguin said. “If you’re inside, obviously take cover. We have outside the doors of the offices or classes [or restrooms] where it says tornado safer zone. If you’re outside, take cover somewhere, not under a tree, obviously, but somewhere stable enough and away from the open areas.”

If a storm hits Richland, the police have a role in helping students and staff get to safety.

“Let’s say a tornado is coming towards here, we’re going to go throughout the buildings and [making] sure that everybody is in a safe place,” Arreguin said.

Richland also has other methods to warn the Richland community about bad weather.

“Keep mindful that there are sirens throughout this side of the city. They’re real loud and audible so just listen to that,” Arreguin said.

Students may sign up online to receive emergency alerts through email or via phone text messages and calls. The alerts will provide instructions about what to do during the emergency.

“In the spring, we can experience heavy rain and sometimes high winds,” Ann Hatch, director of media relations for DCCCD, said. “When the DFW area experiences bad weather late at night or overnight, whether it’s snow, icy conditions or rain with heavy winds, all of the college presidents and the district’s executive vice chancellor, Justin Lonon, hold a 4:30 a.m. conference call to discuss conditions that have been reported by the DCCCD Police Department across the district. If the group agrees that conditions warrant closing that day for classes, then all college campuses close due to weather conditions. The chancellor is kept informed of all decisions.”

If the decision is made to close, the district media relations director and staff alert local news outlets to inform them of the closings. Closings are also posted on their websites.

Although DCCCD understands there may be people who do not live near where they attend school or work, closings are done for safety reasons.

The district has dealt with severe weather in the past. One recent event took place at North Lake.

“A number of years ago, high winds broke a large window in one of North Lake’s buildings,” Hatch said.

DCCCD is no stranger to severe weather and is prepared to respond to situations when severe weather is predicted in the forecast. The district is connected to city, county, state and federal agencies that help decide what actions would best help students and employees.