Severe Weather and Natural Disasters



Hurricanes

Hurricanes have struck the region in the past with extremely high winds. If a hurricane is approaching New England, all department heads should monitor the storm via local radio, TV broadcasts, or the internet. Directors of departments with response personnel shall pay particular attention to official forecasts from the National Hurricane Center/Tropical Prediction Center. These forecasts give projected storm paths as well as coastal city strike probabilities for a wide region.

Instructions to the campus community will be disseminated via supervisors, email and the ConnectEd system.

Hurricane “Watch” Status:

When the National Hurricane Center issues a hurricane "watch" it means that hurricane force winds may threaten the watch area within 48–72 hours.

  • Facilities Management should ensure that emergency generators are operational.
  • The Facilities Management Storeroom should inventory emergency supplies and procure additional items as needed.

If a hurricane warning" is issued for our area, the Vice President for Administration, in consultation with the Director of Facilities Management, will make the determination as to whether the College will be closed. If necessary, the President will be consulted. If so, classes will be canceled and offices closed until the danger is over.

Hurricane “Warning” Status:

A hurricane "warning" means hurricane conditions are likely within 24 hours. Often, the warnings are issued with only 18 to 20 hours of warning. When a "warning" is issued, all departments should finalize storm preparations. This includes securing any sensitive records and equipment, and taking all precautions to minimize potential damage. If the college is closed, information will be announced via voicemail, the college "Weather Hotline" and "Connect-Ed" system.

  • The Emergency Operations Center may be activated.
  • Senior Administrators and Department Heads shall ensure that all preparations are completed in a timely fashion, to allow all non-essential personnel time to go home and prepare for the storm.
  • No student, faculty, or staff other than those specifically designated to work during the storm, or those who live on campus and have no other place to go, should be on campus when the campus is closed for a hurricane emergency. Students remaining on campus will be instructed to remain inside their dormitories, or designated shelter areas.
  • At the hurricane “warning” stage, Connecticut College administrators, together with the Emergency Response Team, will make decisions on the possible need for on-campus shelters to open and essential personnel to work during the storm. 
  • Departments with outdoor equipment shall secure all loose or fragile objects that may become a hazard in high winds, or may be subject to damage from storm surge.
  • Valuable records, computers, or scientific instrumentation that may be subject to damage should be covered with plastic, moved away from windows, or otherwise protected. Computers and vital electronics should be by unplugged, covered with plastic bags, and stored off the floor in case of flooding. Computer files should be backed-up and moved to a safe location.
  • The Athletics Department should secure the waterfront. All boats, equipment and any hazardous materials (gasoline), should be moved indoors inside the main athletic center building, or other appropriate location. A storm surge may flood the entire waterfront area.
  • Facilities Management personnel will remain available for dispensing emergency supplies to building occupants.
  • Facilities Management will assist in taping windows, securing items of concern, and help in covering sensitive equipment and furniture.
  • Dining Services will remain available to provide food service to non-evacuees and essential personnel. Measures should be taken to avoid having students and employees go out into the storm to get to a dining facility. If possible, Dining Services will prepare box meals to be distributed before the storm arrives.
  • If necessary, campus streets will be closed to vehicular traffic, except those used for campus vehicles.
  • The Student Health Center shall be prepared to assist individuals who are injured or ill. If the storm occurs when the Student Health Center is closed, Campus Safety Officers shall be ready to provide immediate first aid until the injured or ill can be evacuated to an appropriate health care facility.
  • All non-essential personnel on campus shall be sent home.

Thunder/Lightning Storms

All members of the campus community are advised to monitor the weather daily during the summer thunderstorm season, and to plan their work around any threatening weather conditions. Severe weather information can be obtained via local radio stations or the Internet.

Faculty, athletic coaches and supervisors should be aware of their responsibility to advise employees and students who might be vulnerable to thunderstorms. Those persons should be warned to take cover when storms approach.

  • Keep an eye on the sky and listen for the sound of thunder. Look for darkening skies, flashes of lightning, or increasing wind and listen for thunder.
  • If you see or hear a thunderstorm coming, or your hair stands on end, get inside a completely enclosed building, or if no enclosed building is convenient, a hard-topped all-metal vehicle, immediately!
  • Get out of, or off, the water. Get out of boats or canoes. When lightning strikes the water, it can travel some distance beneath and away from its point of contact. Sailboat masts attract lightning.
  • If caught outdoors away from enclosed shelter, move away from groups of people. Don't share a shelter or huddle in a group.
  • Stay away from trees. If there is no shelter, crouch in the open, keeping twice as far away from a tree as it is tall. and crouch down with feet together and hands on knees.
  • Avoid metal! Remove all metal objects from your person. Avoid leaning against metal buildings. Get off bicycles and motorcycles. Don't hold on to metal items such golf clubs, metal bats, or tools.
  • Avoid water, open windows and electrical appliances. Because the wires can conduct electricity, this includes land line telephones.

Tornadoes

Connecticut is ranked 42 of all 50 states in frequency of tornadoes, so the likelihood of a tornado affecting Connecticut College is low. However, they have occurred in the past and have caused considerable damage.

In the event of a tornado, the chance of injury can be greatly reduced by following a few simple guidelines:

  • BE ALERT. One of the most important things you can do to prevent being injured in a tornado is to be alert to the onset of severe weather. Most deaths and injuries happen to people who are unaware and uninformed. Young children or the mentally challenged may not recognize a dangerous situation. The ill, elderly, or invalid may not be able to reach shelter in time. Those who ignore the weather because of indifference or overconfidence may not perceive the danger.
  • If you don't regularly watch or listen to the weather report, but strange clouds start moving in and the weather begins to look stormy, turn to the local radio or television station to get the weather forecast.
  • Like hurricanes, there are two awareness levels for potential tornadoes: “Watch” and “Warning.”  If a tornado "watch" is issued for our area, it means that a tornado is "possible." If a tornado "warning" is issued, it means that a tornado has actually been spotted, or is strongly indicated on radar, and it is time to go to a safe shelter immediately. College Relations will warn the campus community via ConnectEd when there is a TORNADO WARNING in effect.

The basement level of all campus buildings is the designated tornado shelter. If your building does not have a basement, go to small interior rooms at the lowest possible level, such as bathrooms, halls or closets on the first floor. Avoid halls that open to the outside in any direction. Interior rooms and halls are the best locations in large buildings. Central stairwells are good, but elevators are not. If the building loses power, you may be trapped in the elevator.

Buildings with large open interior spaces are dangerous, because long roof spans are susceptible to collapse. If time allows, evacuate auditoriums, gyms, and other large, open spaces, and quickly go to an appropriate shelter. If evacuation is not possible, seek shelter in the basement. If your building does not have a basement, go to the lowest level, in an interior room.

Wherever you seek shelter, crouch down, and make as small a "target" as possible. If you have something to cover your head, do so, otherwise, use your hands.  Stay away from glass walls and windows, no matter how small.

Major Snow Events

As New England is famous for its winter weather, there is always the possibility that there may be a severe snow event, sufficient to affect campus operations. Depending upon a number of factors, the Vice President for Administration and the Director of Facilities Management will make the determination as to whether the college will be closed. If necessary, the President will be consulted. Faculty members will decide individually whether to hold classes or not. They are responsible for communicating any schedule changes to their students.

As with hurricanes, there will be “Essential Personnel” required to remain on campus, to continue basic services, and to ensure the safety and well being of all faculty, staff and students remaining on campus.

NOTE:  As soon as it stops snowing, all departments should ensure that emergency exits from all buildings are cleared as soon as possible. Blocked exits during a fire could result in tragedy.

Earthquakes

As with tornadoes, earthquakes in this part of the country are rare, but do occur. Adhering to the following guidelines, will lessen the chances of injury:

  • Remain calm. If indoors, stay indoors. Because of falling objects, the most dangerous thing to do during the shaking of an earthquake is to try to leave the building.
  • Take cover under a piece of heavy furniture or against an inside wall and hold on. Stay away from shelves, glass windows, and heavy equipment.
  • If outdoors, move quickly away from buildings, utility poles and other structures. Remember, utility lines should always be treated as if they are “hot” or energized.
  • If in a moving vehicle, move to a clear area away from buildings, trees, overpasses, or utility wires, stop and stay in the vehicle.
  • Once the shaking has stopped, proceed with caution. Avoid bridges or ramps that might have been damaged by the quake.
  • Stay out of damaged buildings. Return only when authorities say it is safe.
  • Provide assistance to the injured. Give first aid where appropriate. Do not move seriously injured persons, unless they are in immediate danger of further injury. Call for help.

Be prepared for aftershocks, which can be as strong as the original tremor and may raze weakened structures. Aftershocks can occur in the first hours, days, weeks, or even months after the initial earthquake.