Seasonal Weather Safety Tips
September 18, 2023 Written by UD Office of Emergency Management | Kathy F. Atkinson
Winter storms, hurricanes, tornadoes, hail: all are possible here in the First State. Severe weather can happen any time in Delaware; with this in mind, now is the time to prepare. Below, learn more about the kinds of weather possible at UD, how to make sure you are enrolled in emergency alerts, how to monitor the weather and finally, how to prepare for extreme storms.
What kind of weather is possible at UD?
According to the Delaware Climate Office, Delaware can be impacted by several types of severe weather including coastal storms, hurricanes, tornadoes, strong winds and hail.
Floods are common in the United States. Several phenomena can cause flooding, including heavy rain, storm surge, snow melt and other events. If you receive a flood warning, it is important to quickly seek shelter. If you are directed to evacuate, leave the area. Do NOT walk, drive or swim through flood waters. If needed, move to higher ground or a higher floor.
Severe thunderstorms can produce lightning, hail, heavy rainfall and extreme winds. Severe thunderstorms are most common during the summer months in Delaware. During a severe thunderstorm, seek shelter indoors and stay away from windows.
A tornado is a rapidly rotating column of air connected to a thunderstorm. While tornadoes are uncommon in Delaware, they are possible. Given the intense winds contained in a tornado (potentially exceeding 200 mph), these events have the potential to cause considerable damage. If a tornado warning is issued for your area, immediately move indoors and shelter in an interior room, away from exterior walls and windows.
Hurricanes are possible along all U.S. coastlines. The Atlantic Hurricane Season begins on June 1 and continues until November 30, though hurricanes can occur outside of this window. Hurricanes produce compounding hazards—storm surge, wind damage, flooding, tornadoes—making them especially dangerous. Hurricanes may result in evacuation orders for specific areas.
Winter weather, including blizzards, can include snow, sleet, freezing rain and extreme cold temperatures. Extreme winter weather conditions can lead to power outages and hazardous road conditions. During dangerous winter weather, shelter indoors and avoid going outside.
Are you enrolled in UD Alert?
One of the best and most important things you can do to prepare yourself for extreme weather events is to make sure you are signed up for emergency alerts so you can be notified when extreme weather is underway.
For any emergencies impacting UD, the UD Office of Emergency Management will issue a UD Alert. UD Alert is the University of Delaware's primary emergency notification system. The system is only activated during major emergencies in which there is an imminent danger to the safety and welfare of students, faculty and staff, or if a state of emergency is declared. UD Alert messages are sent as a phone call, email and text message. All students, faculty and staff are encouraged to register to receive UD Alerts. Students, faculty and staff may visit udel.edu/alert/alert-instructions to learn more and to register.
All students, faculty and staff should also download UD’s LiveSafe app. LiveSafe is a free app that includes emergency notification and reporting features. All UD Alerts are also sent on the app; additionally, UD will use the app to issue important notifications that are not critical enough to be sent as UD Alerts (such as information on road closures, vaccination clinics, etc.). Download this free app today on the App Store or Google Play.
In addition to UD Alert, UD community members are encouraged to enroll in the Delaware Emergency Notification System (DENS) offered for free through the Delaware Emergency Management Agency and the City of Newark’s notification system. Learn more about DENS and other emergency notification systems in Delaware.
UD students and staff should also subscribe to important UD social media pages, such as the main UD accounts and the UD Police Department accounts. The City of Newark also maintains a social media presence and posts critical updates on these pages. UD community members should follow the City of Newark to ensure they are kept up to date on events and incidents within the city.
Below are links to information on emergency alert services in other states UD students, faculty and staff may reside in:
How can you be “weather aware?"
Extreme weather conditions can disrupt your normal routines, from how you dress to your commute to and from campus.
“Being weather aware means you have a general awareness of what weather you’re facing that day before you head out the door in the morning," said Josh Kelly, UD’s associate director of emergency management. "This doesn’t mean obsessively checking the weather every minute of the day or living in fear of what could happen. It simply means, being cognizant of your surroundings and planning your day safely and deliberately.”
It is important to practice weather-awareness every day so you can be prepared for daily weather conditions.
For the latest and most up-to-date weather information for this region, the UD Office of Emergency Management recommends regularly reviewing the National Weather Service (NWS) Philadelphia/Mt Holly Forecast Office website. NWS is a federal agency with responsibility for issuing weather warning, forecasts, and other weather-related information. Additionally, Kelly recommends UD community members familiarize themselves with the Delaware Environmental Observing System as a system for staying informed on weather conditions on and around UD.
What's the difference between watches and warnings?
A watch means that conditions are favorable for a particular type of weather. A warning means that the weather event is underway. It is important to know the difference!
How can I prepare now?
Preparedness involves any action taken to increase your ability to respond when disaster strikes.
Make an emergency plan
Take a moment to imagine one of the severe weather hazards mentioned above. If any of these were to occur, do you know what you would do? Do you know where you would go? How would you communicate with loved ones? It is important to discuss disaster scenarios with your household. Take the time to document important emergency contact information and how you would respond in a disaster. In your plan, ensure to list your evacuation route and shelter-in-place locations for the places you frequent (work, school, home).
Know your evacuation route
You may need to evacuate an area for a variety of reasons. A hurricane warning may result in the need to evacuate. Likewise, a flood event may prompt an evacuation. It is important to know in advance how and where you would evacuate. You should identify a nearby evacuation location and an out-of-town location. If you have pets, you will also need to consider where they can be taken. For more evacuation considerations, visit this site.
Identify your shelter-in-place locations
Some types of severe weather events—tornadoes, severe thunderstorms and winter storms—require sheltering-in-place. An ideal severe weather shelter is an interior room, on the lowest accessible level of the building, with no exterior walls or windows. Take time to identify this location at your home, at work and at school.
Gather needed supplies
If you needed to evacuate your home, would you have the items you needed ready to go? After a hurricane, it is possible your home will not be accessible for several days. Identify what items, documents and other supplies you’d need to take with you. Make a checklist and gather those items in a go-bag.
Learn more about preparedness
There are many actions you can take to prepare yourself for the impacts of disasters. Take time to visit PrepareDE.org to learn more. For more information about on-campus emergency preparedness, visit udel.edu/emergency. Contact the UD Office of Emergency Management (OEM) to request emergency preparedness consultation.
In conclusion, severe weather can happen any time, so there is no better time than the present to prepare. The UD Emergency Management team wants to emphasize the importance of taking the weather seriously and being weather aware.
“Weather in Delaware is more complex than you would initially think," said Kelly. "Especially considering UD has campuses located throughout the state; including our main campus which is nestled inland in Newark and then our Lewes campus that sits right on the Atlantic coastline. This presents a unique challenge from a weather forecasting and emergency preparedness perspective. But that’s why it’s so important to remain aware of your surroundings when planning outdoor events or activities and to periodically set time aside to prepare for the unexpected.”
To learn more about on-campus emergency preparedness or reach out directly to the UD Emergency Management team, visit udel.edu/emergency.
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