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Winter Storms

Winter storms are classified by the National Weather Service as:

Winter Weather Advisory

A winter weather advisory is issued when a low pressure system produces a combination of winter weather (snow, freezing rain, sleet, etc.) that present a hazard, but does not meet warning criteria.

Winter Storm Watch

A winter storm watch is issued when there is a potential for heavy snow or significant ice accumulations, usually at least 24 to 36 hours in advance.

Winter Storm Warning

A winter storm warning indicates when a winter storm is producing or is forecast to produce heavy snow or significant ice accumulations.

Before a Winter Storm

  • Stay informed. Listen to the radio or television for latest weather information.
  • If roads have been closed, do not attempt to travel.
  • Have a plan for an extended power outage. Winter storms have the potential to knock power lines to the ground and disrupt electric service for an extended period of time. It may be necessary to move into another facility/building to prevent injury.

Prepare Your Vehicle

An emergency situation on the road can arise at any time and you must be prepared. Following a tune-up, a full tank of gas, and fresh anti-freeze, your trunk should carry:

  • A properly inflated spare tire, wheel wrench and a jack
  • A shovel
  • Jumper cables
  • Tow and tire chains
  • A bag of salt or cat litter
  • Tool kit

Be prepared with a "survival kit" that should always remain in the car. Replenish after use. Essential supplies include:

  • Working flashlight and extra batteries
  • Reflective triangles and brightly-colored cloth
  • Compass
  • First aid kit
  • Exterior windshield cleaner
  • Ice scraper and snow brush
  • Wooden stick matches in a waterproof container
  • Scissors and string/cord
  • Non-perishable, high energy foods like unsalted canned nuts, dried fruits, and hard candy

In addition, if you are driving long distances under cold, snowy, and icy conditions, you should also carry supplies to keep you warm, such as heavy woolen mittens, socks, a cap, and blankets.

During a Winter Storm

  • Stay safe, warm, dry and calm.
  • Do not drive unnecessarily. Of deaths related to ice and snow, 70 percent occur when people are stranded in cars or involved in accidents. If you must drive, bring necessary supplies.
  • Dress warm enough to prevent frostbite and hypothermia.
  • Do not go outside if you don’t have to.

If you are in a vehicle:

  • In extreme cold or in heavy snow, stay with your car until you can be rescued. Do not leave your car unless you know exactly where you are, how far it is to possible help, and are certain you will improve your situation.
  • Keep at least one window open slightly. Heavy snow and ice can seal a car shut. It also allows in fresh air to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Make sure the exhaust pipe is not blocked, which would cause dangerous fumes to back-up inside the car. Run the engine and heater for about 10 minutes every hour or so depending upon the amount of gas in the tank.
  • Make yourself visible to rescuers. To attract attention, light two flares and place one at each end of the car a safe distance away. Hang a brightly colored cloth from your antenna. Tie a bright cloth to you antenna or door to alert rescuers.
  • Turn on your dome light, at night, when running the engine.
  • Raise the hood indicating trouble after snow stops falling.
  • Exercise from time to time by vigorously moving arms, legs, fingers and toes to keep blood circulating and to keep warm.
  • To protect yourself from frostbite and hypothermia use the woolen items and blankets to keep warm.
  • Eat a hard candy to keep your mouth moist.

During extremely serious blizzards, it may not be possible for students to attend classes and utilize the library and other facilities. Classes will be held or cancelled based on local weather conditions, even though there may be a blizzard raging elsewhere in the state or in adjoining states.

Regardless of administrative decisions made because of winter storms, it should be clearly understood that each individual is best able to judge his or her own circumstances and make appropriate decisions. The University does not encourage anyone to place themselves in a dangerous or life threatening situation.