Experts frustrated at lack of tornado response at IU

Indiana University fans stayed outside as tornado sirens sounded Friday.

Images of hundreds of college students not taking cover from an approaching storm is frustrating emergency officials in Monroe County.

Indiana University students were preparing to watch the Sweet Sixteen rematch between IU and Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament when tornado sirens sounded Friday afternoon.

"Basically, those sirens are telling you to get indoors, get some information," said Jim Comerford, Monroe County Emergency Management.

Video shows some students doing just that, but at that point, trouble seemed far away.

"The only tornado coming is IU beating Kentucky, that's it," said one student.

That's the problem. The National Weather Service warnings that prompt the siren are getting better and better at giving advanced warning.

"That means it is that much more likely that, when you first get that warning, you will see sunshine, 'cause it isn't there yet," Comerford said.

Henryville had a 15-minute warning ahead of the March 2 storm that ravaged the community. That storm was 12 miles away when the sirens sounded. Yet, in spite of all that has happened in southern Indiana recently, the students stayed outside, even after the siren sounded.

Management at Kilroy's near the IU campus said they did ask all the students sitting outside to come inside for their own safety, but said they didn't budge.

They were not alone.

"I was really outside and I went in and found out, 'Oh, this is real'," said IU sophomore Chris Reba.

IU freshman Kristin Allen had a different reaction after being herded into the hallway of the local movie theater.

"They stopped all the movies and made us get in the hallway for 45 minutes. I am sure the movie schedule was messed up for the rest of the night," she said.

Asked about people staying outside in light of the storms in Henryville, Comerford just shrugged his shoulders.

Jeff Green, who owns a business on Kirkwood Avenue in Bloomington, says he was shocked that students decided to ride out the storm outside.

"What if a parent saw their kid drunk, avoiding a tornado siren?" he asked.

Experts say to keep in mind, if you hear a tornado siren and see blue skies, that doesn't mean a storm is not coming, it only means it hasn't arrived yet.