Severe Weather

Find out what you can do before severe weather strikes. Preparation is key to staying safe and minimizing impacts. Severe weather can create hazardous conditions, including damaging winds, tornadoes, large hail, flooding and flash flooding, and freezing.

Prepare & Respond


Every year, more deaths occur due to flooding than from any other storm-related hazards. If you know what to do before, during, and after a flood can increase your chances of survival.

How to Prepare

  • Learn which roadways are likely to flood and find alternative routes. Never attempt to drive through flooded areas. – Remember, Turn around. Don't Drown.
  • Charge your essential electronics. Make sure your cell phone is charged in case you lose power or need to evacuate.
  • Sign up for text alerts to receive university alerts quickly.
  • Make an emergency kit to help you wait until the flood water go down.

Reasons to Avoid Flood Waters

  • Standing water can hide chemicals, power lines, debris, and animals (snakes and alligators).
  • Flowing water is powerful.
    • 6 inches of fast-moving water can knock adults off their feet and weep them away.
    • 12 inches of moving water can carry off a small car.
    • 18-24 inches of moving water can carry away larger vehicles in trucks, vans, and SUV’s.
  • Your presence in flooded areas may hamper emergency operations and wait for the all-clear given by officials.
  • The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that over half of all flood-related drownings occur when a vehicle is driven into floodwaters.

For more information, refer to the National Weather Service at


Lightning is hotter than the surface of the sun and can reach temperatures around 50,000 degrees. Although most lightning occurs during the summer, people can be struck at any time of year.

When Lightning Strikes

  • Do not bathe, shower, wash dishes, or have any other contact with water during a thunderstorm. Lightning can travel through plumbing.
  • Avoid using electronic equipment of all types. Lightning can travel through electrical systems and radio and television reception systems.
  • Avoid concrete floors and walls. Do not lie on concrete floors during a thunderstorm. Also, avoid leaning on concrete walls. Lightning can travel through any metal wires or bars in concrete walls or flooring.
  • After you see lightning, start counting to 30. If you hear thunder before you reach 30, go indoors. Suspend activities for at least 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder.

If you are caught outside, use the following precautions:

  • Avoid high grounds such as a hill or tower.
  • Get out and away from ponds, lakes and other bodies of water
  • Avoid laying flat on the ground.
  • Avoid sheltering under an isolated tree.
  • Stay away from objects that conduct electricity (barbed wire fences, power lines, windmills, etc.)

For more information, refer to the National Weather Service at


Tornados are a violently rotating column of air that extends from the base of a thunderstorm down to the ground. Tornadoes are capable of destroying well-made structures, uprooting trees, and hurling objects through the air like deadly missiles. Tornadoes can occur at any time of day or night and at any time of the year.

During a tornado warning, the outdoor warning sirens will activate. Classes will be temporarily suspended for the duration of the warning. Note ‐ A siren test is conducted at 10:55 a.m. on the first Tuesday of each month, weather permitting.

How to Respond

  • Move to a safe location. This is generally on the lowest floor of most buildings, away from windows and in the center of the building.
  • Help persons with disabilities obtain shelter, if able and willing.
  • Alert others along the way.
  • If possible, bring a portable radio with you to monitor the situation.
  • Remain in the safe location until the warning has passed and it is safe to leave.
  • Report any damage or injury to the University Police. If damage or injury is life threatening, call their emergency line at 936.294.1000, otherwise call 936.294.1800. Non-threatening property damage may also be reported to Facilities Management.
  • If in a vehicle, either get down in your car and cover your head, or abandon your car and seek shelter in a low lying area such as a ditch or ravine.

More about Shelter-in-Place

For more information, refer to the National Weather Service at


A hurricane is a tropical storm with winds that have reached a constant speed of 74 miles per hour or more. The eye of a storm is usually 20-30 miles wide and may extend over 400 miles. The dangers of a storm include torrential rains, high winds and storm surges.

Before Leaving Campus

If asked to evacuate campus, use the checklist below.

  • Turn off and unplug electrical equipment.
  • Move computers/fax machines/printers from rooms with exterior windows.
  • Back up essential data files and documents.
  • Secure or remove back-up files.
  • Secure proprietary information.
  • Clear desk surfaces.
  • Secure or remove personal items.
  • Cover your computer with plastic.
  • Close blinds.
  • Assist employees with disabilities, if able and willing.
  • Vacate offices, closing and locking all doors.

Preparing to Stay

You will need the following supplies during a hurricane.

  • Emergency Kit
  • 3-day supply of non-perishable emergency food
  • 3-day supply of water
  • Medication
  • Flashlight
  • Batteries
  • Battery Pack for Phone
  • Weather radio

During & After the Storm

  • If staying, take refuge in a small interior room, closet, or hallway on the lowest level during the storm.
    • Put as many walls between you and the outside as you can.
    • Stay away from windows, skylights, and glass doors.
  • Avoid flood waters. You don’t know what might be in the water.
  • Watch for fallen objects in the road, downed electrical wires, and weakened walls, bridges, roads, and sidewalks that might collapse.
  • Stay out of and away from any building if you smell gas.
  • Never use a portable generator inside your home or garage.
  • Use battery-powered flashlights. Do not use candles.

For more information, refer to the National Weather Service at


Heat is one of the leading weather-related killers in the United States, resulting in hundreds of fatalities each year. Heat can be very taxing on the body.

How to Stay Safe During Excessive Heat Events

  • Slow down. Reduce, eliminate or reschedule strenuous activities until the coolest time of the day.
  • Dress for summer. Wear lightweight, loose fitting, light-colored clothing to reflect heat and sunlight.
  • Minimize direct exposure to the sun. Sunburn reduces your body's ability to dissipate heat.
  • Eat light, cool, easy-to-digest foods such as fruit or salads.
  • Use air conditioners or spend time in air-conditioned locations.
  • Take a cool bath or shower.
  • Do not direct the flow of portable electric fans toward yourself when room temperature is hotter than 90°F. The dry blowing air will dehydrate you faster, endangering your health.

Heat-related illnesses

Everyone can be vulnerable to heat, but some more are prone to heat-related illnesses than others. Look out for these symptoms.

Heat cramps: Maybe the first sign of heat-related illness with painful muscle cramps usually in the legs, abdomen with heavy sweating.

Heat exhaustion: Heavy sweating, weakness, cool, pale clammy skin fast or weak pulse, muscle cramps dizziness, nausea or vomiting, headache.

Heat Stroke: Throbbing headache, confusion, nausea, body temperature above 103 degrees, red or damp skin rapid and strong pulse, fainting.

For more information, refer to the National Weather Service at

Winter Weather

Winter storms create a higher risk of car accidents, hypothermia, frostbite, carbon monoxide poisoning, and heart attacks from overexertion. Winter storms can bring extreme cold, freezing rain, snow, ice and high winds.

How to Prepare

You will need the following supplies during a winter storm.

  • Blankets
  • Emergency Kit
  • 3-day supply of non-perishable emergency food
  • 3-day supply of water
  • Medication
  • Flashlight
  • Batteries
  • Battery Pack for Phone
  • Weather radio

How to Respond

If your heat goes out, you should:

  • Close off unneeded rooms to avoid wasting heat.
  • Stuff towels or rags in cracks under doors.
  • Close blinds or curtains to keep in some heat.
  • Eat and drink. Food provides the body with energy for producing its own heat. Drinks lots of water and other non-caffeinated, non-alcoholic drinks to prevent dehydration. Cold air is very dry.
  • Wear layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing. Remove layers to avoid overheating, perspiration and subsequent chill.
  • Open cabinet doors below sinks to allow warm air to circulate around the pipes.
  • Protect water pipes (outside or exposed to exterior wall of buildings or run through unheated areas), by allowing the faucet to drip slowly.

If you must drive during a storm, take the following precautions:

  • Slow down! Even if the roads just look wet they could still be slick.
  • Make sure your vehicle is completely clear of ice or snow before starting the trip. Flying snow from cars causes accidents.
  • Let someone know where you are going and what route you will take. If something happens, this person will know where to start a search.
  • Bring an emergency kit, blankets, boots, and an extra coat in the event your vehicle becomes disabled.
  • If you are driving and begin to skid, remain calm, ease your foot off the gas and turn your wheels in the direction you want the front of the car to go. If you have an anti-lock braking system (ABS), apply steady pressure to the brake pedal. Never pump the brakes on an ABS equipped vehicle.
  • If you are having trouble seeing due to weather conditions, pull over to the side of the road and stop your car until visibility improves. Turn off your lights and use your parking break when stopped so that another car won't mistakenly follow your tail/brake lights and end up hitting you.
  • Watch for patches of ice when walking and driving. Remember, bridges have a tendency to freeze before roadways.

If you notice leaking or ruptured pipes or encounter any other building emergency on campus, immediately notify your building liaison or RA. If they are not available, call Facilities Customer Services at 936.294.3663 during normal business hours or UPD (936.294.1800) during non-business hours.

For more information, refer to the National Weather Service at

Warning vs. Watch

Watches and warnings may be issued for the development of severe thunderstorms or tornadoes, tropical storms, etc. Precautions will depends upon the specific type of watch issued.

Warning – A warning means that you should take action now. Dangerous weather has been confirmed in your area.

Watch – A watch means you should be prepared for dangerous weather conditions.