Severe Weather

Union Drive with heavy snow

In Iowa, the possibility of severe weather is a real concern. Our goal is to inform you of the weather hazards that typically affect ISU and to educate you on what to do during different weather emergencies. 

A bright orange Fire/Emergency/Tornado Procedure sticker is on the back of each student room/apartment entry doors. DO NOT remove or deface these stickers.

For detailed information about ISU's commitment to Severe Weather preparedness, visit the ISU Environmental Health and Safety Web site.

Watches and Warnings - The National Weather Service and local radio and television stations will announce watches and warnings about severe weather. One local channel to watch is KCCI (channel 8 - CBS).

  • A WATCH is issued when conditions are favorable for severe weather to develop.
  • A WARNING is issued for areas where severe weather is present or imminent.
  • A TORNADO WARNING means that a tornado has been seen or detected by radar and may be approaching.

Cold Weather - Mid-west winters can be tough! Snow, ice and wind combine to create extremely cold temperatures, often accompanying winter storms. To stay safe, follow these cold weather tips:

  • Stay indoors as much as possible. If you do go outside, try to make trips as brief as possible. 
  • Be Cautious About Travel. Don't be on the roads if you don't absolutely have to.
  • Dress appropriately before going outdoors. Hypothermia and frostbite can happen quickly. You should always wear a hat, mittens/gloves, a scarf or knit mask to cover your mouth, a water-resistant coat with sleeves that are snug at the wrist, and waterproof, insulated boots.

Flooding - Spring in the mid-west brings with it the potential of flooding and parts of the Ames community are considered to be flood plains. According to The National Weather Service, more accidents occur each year due to flooding than from any other severe weather related hazard. Over 50% of flood related accidents occur when people underestimate the force and power of water and they and/or their vehicles are swept downstream. Of these, many are preventable if you follow these safety tips:

  • If flooding occurs, get to higher ground. Get out of areas subject to flooding.
  • Never attempt to walk through flowing water and NEVER drive through flooded roadways. "Turn around, don't drown."
  • Do not park your vehicle along streams, particularly during threatening conditions.

Tornados - ISU is cyclone country in more ways than one! Tornadoes generally ocurr March through September and are often preceded by severe thunderstorms. With winds of up to 300 mph, tornadoes can cause serious damage in a matter of minutes.

If a Tornado Watch is issued, you should review emergency plans and be prepared to act. Be alert for changing conditions and these danger signs: power failure, roaring / train-like noise, strong winds or funnel clouds.

If a Tornado Warning is issued and/or the tornado sirens are activated, all individuals on-campus should proceed to the nearest designated tornado shelter. Shelter areas depend on your location at the time of the tornado warning. Maps showing evacuation routes and other emergency information are posted in all university buildings.

  • If you are inside:
    • Stay in that building! Do not go outside.
    • Proceed to the nearest designated shelter area in the building by the quickest route.
    • Move quickly but in an orderly manner so that all may arrive safely.
    • Take a seat in the shelter area (if seats are not available, calmly remain standing).
    • If you have a portable weather alert radio, try to bring it to the shelter.
  • If you are outside:
    • Move at right angles to the tornado.
    • Immediately enter the nearest building.
    • If there is no time to escape or find shelter, lie flat in a ditch or depression, avoiding areas subject to rapid water accumulation or flooding in heavy rains.
  • Areas/places to avoid:
  • All outside walls, elevators and windows of buildings.
  • Any low-lying area that could flood.
  • Vehicles---do not use for shelter.
  • Building areas with a large roof span.

Remain sheltered until the tornado warning is over. There is no "all clear" signal given; this information will be provided by listening to a radio or TV station, or by contacting the ISU Department of Public Safety (515-294-4428).