News

UNCW Prepared for 2016 Hurricane Season

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

UNCW’s Office of Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) keeps a close eye on weather forecasts during the hurricane season, which officially begins June 1 and ends Nov. 30. As a coastal university, UNCW has federally compliant hurricane procedures in place, said Eric Griffin, emergency manager and assistant EH&S director.

“We have well-practiced policies and procedures at UNCW, but we also like to focus on preparedness at home,” Griffin said. He emphasized the need for UNCW students and employees to have personal preparedness plans and to be aware of emergency procedures and communications on campus.

Modern storm tracking services offer useful information for planning several days in advance. In the event of tropical weather in the vicinity of the UNCW main campus or satellite locations, the Office of University Relations and EH&S work together to keep the campus community informed of delays, closings and other weather-related information.

The university uses a variety of communications tools ­– including the UNCW homepage, UNCW Alert website and hotline, phone, email and text alerts and local media outlets – to disseminate emergency information and to announce closings or class cancellations. EH&S continually looks at ways to improve the channels of communication between emergency staff and the UNCW community, Griffin added.

Communications among emergency management agencies in the Cape Fear region follow similar guidelines. UNCW will participate in an exercise June 1 organized by New Hanover County emergency management officials to help ensure a coordinated response to a hurricane or other emergency.

The peak of hurricane season hits after fall classes are in session, so EH&S is working to standardize evacuation policies. With thousands of students, faculty and staff on campus, emergency officials try to make evacuation decisions in time to allow at least six to eight hours of daylight available for driving or preparations.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is predicting a near-normal Atlantic hurricane season, with 10-16 named storms in 2016, of which 4-8 could become hurricanes and 1-4 of them major hurricanes with sustained winds greater than 111 mph. Although the tropics are most active during the typical hurricane season, tropical storms can form at any time of the year. January saw the formation of Hurricane Alex, the first tropical cyclone of 2016.

Below are some of the resources available to UNCW faculty, staff and students in the event of an emergency. Griffin urges students and employees to sign up for automated alerts and to monitor the UNCW homepage, weather forecasts and local media reports for updated information.

UNCW Emergency Communication Tools

Additional Tools for Urgent Situations

  • Seahawk Warning siren system
  • UNCW Alert mass phone calls and/or text messages for faculty, staff and students
  • To receive UNCW Alert messages, log onto mySeaport, scroll down the left side navigation and click “Register to Receive UNCW Emergency Texts.” Provide/update your phone number and/or email address. Click “submit.”

Hurricane-Related Resources

-- Tricia Vance

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