This is not a drill

Students in one of the designated shelters in the L Building check their phones. (Photo by Miranda Gardner.)

What was at first thought to be a routine tornado drill turned out to be the real thing.

A tornado alarm went off Tuesday, Aug. 29, about 3:20 p.m., as classes were either letting out or getting ready to begin.

Students and faculty packed into designated storm shelters and waited for news on what was causing the alarm.

MCCC switchboard operator Kim Letasse said the warning came over the emergency scanner.

“I heard the warning from the Monroe County Emergency Management and contacted security,” Letasse said. “Security then told me to sound the severe weather alarm.”

Parts of Monroe County were also put under a warning and outdoor sirens could be heard from Milan to just south of Ida.

Mark Hammond, the Monroe County director of Emergency Management explained what caused the alarm.

“A cold weather spout touched down near Cone Road and U.S. 23 in Milan Township,” Hammond said.

A “cold weather spout” or waterspout, is an intense tornado-like vortex that occurs over a body of water.

The spout quickly dissipated and shortly before 4 p.m. the all clear was given and students were released.