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Storm Emergencies

Severe stormy weather poses many threats that can affect travel, communication, and physical safety.

Winter Storms

Winter storms can bring cold temperatures, power failures, loss of communication services, and icy roads. 

University Procedure in Case of Winter Storms

If severe winter storms hit campus during normal school hours, university leadership will decide whether to close the campus or have employees leave work early. Students and employees will be notified by updates through official emails, texts, homepage banners, digital network signs, and radio stations (FM 94.3). Updates will also be posted live on the university’s official social media and at

Students, faculty, and staff who wonder whether the university will be open the day after a major overnight storm are recommended to wait for updates through the same communication channels.

During a Winter Storm

  1. If the power goes out, use extra blankets and coats to keep warm. Turning on the stove for heat is not safe. Make sure to move any flammable materials like curtains or blankets away from space heaters.  
  2. If there is a power failure, use battery-powered flashlights rather than candles, which can lead to house fires. If you do use candles, never leave candles unattended.  
  3. Conserve heat by avoiding opening doors or windows. You can also stuff towels or other items in cracks under doors. Close curtains or cover windows with blankets at night.  
  4. Extreme cold can cause water pipes in your home or apartment to freeze and sometimes rupture or break. Keep the temperature at 65 degrees even when away from home to minimize the chance of pipes freezing.   
  5. Listen for wind chill temperature when listening for winter storm updates: Wind chill temperature is not the actual temperature, but how cold humans and animals feel when outside. As wind increases, heat is carried away from your body at a faster rate which drives your body temperature down, causing you to feel much colder.  
  6. Do your best to stay dry; wet clothing chills the body.  
  7. Excess sweating will cause your body to lose more heat, so remove extra layers of clothing whenever you feel too warm 

Traveling During Winter Storms

It’s best to avoid traveling during winter storms if possible. If travel is necessary, always keep your gas tank near full to avoid ice in the tank and fuel lines, and just in case your car gets stuck on the road. The following items are helpful to keep in your car.

  • Cell phone portable charger  
  • Items to stay warm (hats, extra coat, mittens, blankets) 
  • Windshield scraper  
  • Flashlight  
  • Water and snacks  
  • First aid kit  
  • Sand or cat litter to help tires get traction, or road salt to melt ice  
  • Jumper cables  


During a severe thunderstorm, remain indoors to avoid lightning. Follow these guiding principles from the CDC.

Avoid Electrical Sources

  1. Avoid contact with corded phones and devices including those plugged into electric sources for recharging.  
  2. Cordless and wireless phones that not connected to a wall outlet are safer to use. 
  3. Avoid contact with electrical equipment or cords.  
  4. Lightning can cause dangerous power surges. Unplug appliances and other electrical items, including computers. Shut off air conditioners.

Avoid Energy Conductors

  1. Plumbing and bathroom fixtures can easily conduct electricity. Avoid contact with plumbing and do not wash your hands, take a shower, wash dishes, or do laundry.
  2. Avoid contact with anything metal—tractors, farm equipment, motorcycles, golf carts, and bicycles, etc. 

Outdoor Safety

  1. Stay away from windows, doors, and porches. 
  2. Take shelter in a sturdy building. Avoid isolated sheds and other small structures in open areas. 
  3. Do not lie on concrete floors or lean against concrete walls. 
  4. Avoid hilltops, open fields, beaches, or a boat on water. 
  5. Avoid natural lightning rods such as tall, isolated trees in open areas. 
  6. If you are driving, safely exit the roadway and park the vehicle. Stay in the vehicle and turn on the emergency flashing lights until heavy rain ends.  
  7. Avoid touching metal or other surfaces that can easily conduct electricity inside and outside of the vehicle. 


Where you are during a tornado hits matters. Use the following information to help you decide what to do in your situation.

Inside a Building

If you are in a structure such as a residence, small building, school, nursing home, hospital, factory, shopping center, or high-rise building:

  1. Go to a pre-designated area such as a safe room, basement, storm cellar, or the lowest level in a building.  
  2. If there is no basement, go to the center of a small interior room on the lowest level of the building (e.g., a closet or interior hallway) away from corners, windows, doors, and outside walls. 
  3. Put as many walls as possible between you and the outside. 
  4. Get under a sturdy table and use your arms to protect your head and neck. 
  5. If you are in a high-rise building, go to a small interior room or hallway on the lowest floor as possible.  
  6. Put on sturdy shoes. 
  7. Do not open windows. 

Manufactured Home or Office

  1. Get out immediately and go to a pre-identified location such as the lowest floor of a sturdy, nearby building or storm shelter.  
  2. Keep in mind that mobile homes, even if they are tied down, offer little protection from tornados.  

Outside With No Shelter

If you are not in a sturdy building, there is no single research-based recommendation because many factors can affect your decisions. Consider these guidelines:

  1. Immediately get into a vehicle, buckle your seatbelt, and try to drive to the nearest sturdy shelter. If your vehicle is hit by flying debris, pull over and park until the storm passes. 
  2. Take cover in a stationary vehicle. Strap a seatbelt on and cover your head with your arms and a blanket, coat, or cushion (if possible). 
  3. Lie in and area noticeably lower than the level of the roadway and cover your head with your arms and a blanket, coat, or cushion (if possible).  

In All Situations

  1. Do not seek shelter under overpasses or bridges. You are safer in a low, flat location.  
  2. Never try to outrun a tornado in urban or congested areas while in a vehicle. Instead, leave the vehicle immediately for a safe shelter.  
  3. Watch for flying debris. Flying debris from tornados causes most injuries and fatalities.