Wacky weather in the Whee

Night fell on Cullowhee yesterday in its usual fashion, but what occurred after the sun set was anything but normal.

It began with the rain, picking up pace until buckets were pouring over campus.

The wind joined, ripping through the valley of Cullowhee at speeds reaching up to 40 miles per hour, nearly tearing away Catamount banners from their lightposts.

The fireworks began shortly after, in the form of terrific lightning strikes. For a while, many enjoyed simply watching the storm from their windows.

Western alum and Cullowings manager Daniel Parris shared his drive through hail and lightning last night via Vine:

A few strokes had passed since midnight when the tornado siren began bellowing throughout the university.

As the emergency PA system announced that Cullowhee was under a tornado warning, campus residents hustled out of their rooms and huddled into ground-floor hallways.

Social media sites exploded with storm-related comments. The reactions to the impending threat of a tornado were varied.

“I was worried it would hit our house,” said Tanner Morris, a senior at Western. “And the emergency sirens going off we’re extremely creepy.”

Creepy, and loud. The warnings were not only heard by on-campus residents, but also commuters living in off-campus apartments. Fair to say that the PA system works in exactly the way that it was intended to.

The main criticism surrounding the warning is when it was administered.

It followed a tornado warning that had expired at 11:45, and the storm appeared to have calmed to some degree by the time that the warning had been administered.

Ominous clouds clearing out of Cullowhee early this evening.

Ominous clouds clearing out of Cullowhee early this evening.

“I think it was a lot of overreaction,” said senior student Anthony Bouthillette. “They made it a bigger deal than it was. The storm itself wasn’t that bad.”

Both viewpoints are valid. On one hand, no tornadoes touched down in Cullowhee last night. However, there were unconfirmed sightings of tornadoes developing as nearby as Sylva, and the university has a responsibility to ensure the safety of students to the best of their ability.

Either way, the community is happy to have a small break from the ugly weather, as dreary clouds eventually gave way to a little sunlight this evening.

Thunderstorms are expected to return early Wednesday morning, however. Weather radars are currently anticipating for strong storms to begin around 2 a.m.