High Winds or Tornado

In the event of high winds or tornado related weather conditions, the following safety procedures are recommended:

  • Avoid upper floors and especially the top floor of a multi-story building whenever possible. The upper floors receive the full force of the winds.
  • Spaces in basement areas are better than locations on any other floor.
  • Interior spaces - seek out spaces that form a part of a protected interior core, if possible.
  • Avoid rooms with exterior walls, especially those facing south and west.  Rooms facing north usually receive the least damage of all exterior rooms.
  • A room that is completely interior protects against flying debris.
  • Avoid rooms with wide roofs that could collapse easily, such as the gym and auditoriums.
  • If you are outside and you cannot get inside, crouch for protection beside a strong structure, or lie flat in a ditch or low-lying area and cover your head and neck with your arms or a piece of clothing.

Visit Ready.gov to learn more about Tornado planning, preparedness, response, and recovery.


Disruption to Campus

Know the differences between Tornado Watch and a Tornado Warning, it can save your life.

Storm systems with a high likelihood of spawning tornadoes can disrupt the normal operating schedule even if no tornadoes directly hit the campus. Example of this occurred in 2017 when campus elected to close based on information given to us via the National Weather Service. During that outbreak, 35 confirmed tornadoes touched down along a system line stretching from Florida to Ohio. Fortunately, none of these storms affected the Chattanooga area.

*Tornado Watches are issued by a county basis, which can typically stretch to multiple counties and sometimes different states. This means tornadoes are possible in and near the watch area. Discuss your emergency plans with your Resident Assistant or Resident Director and be ready to act quickly if a warning is issued or you suspect a tornado is approaching.
Tornado Warnings are indicated by a zone or path issued by the local forecast office, for us it is Morristown, TN. This means there is imminent danger to life and property. When the National Weather Service designates a Tornado Warning, a Wireless Emergency Alert is sent to all capable phones in the warning area. Check your phone to see if your phone is capable and the alerts are on.

Tornado Watch vs Warning*Information and image provided by the National Weather Service.


Shelter Locations On Our Campus

Residential Halls

  • We recommend that residents become acquainted with their neighbors and aware of their residence hall’s tornado shelter plan. Not all resident halls have the same exact plan or the same building layout.
  • If possible, move to the lowest floor of the building.
  • Remember Fire Stairways are safe!
  • Take shelter in a restroom or rooms with no or minimal windows.
  • Duck as low to the floor as you can.
  • Cover yourself with heavy objects (ex: mattresses) to reduce the impact of falling debris. 
  • Remain in shelter location until an “all clear” is given via UTC-ALERT.

Academic Buildings

  • Avoid upper floors and especially the top floor of a multi-story building whenever possible. The upper floors receive the full force of the winds.
  • Spaces in basement areas are better than locations on any other floor.
  • Interior spaces - seek out spaces that form a part of a protected interior core, if possible.
  • Avoid rooms with exterior walls, especially those facing south and west. Rooms facing north usually receive the least damage of all exterior rooms.
  • A room that is completely interior protects against flying debris.
  • Avoid interior partitions that contain glass or rooms containing windows.
  • Avoid rooms with wide roofs that could collapse easily, such as the gym and auditoriums.
  • If you are outside and you cannot get inside, crouch for protection beside a strong structure, or lie flat in a ditch or low-lying area and cover your head and neck with your arms or a piece of clothing.

The most important thing to remember is listen to warnings and take action immediately.

Tornado activity affects the campus in multiple ways. When the National Weather Service issues a TORNADO WARNING for an area that includes the campus, UTC will send out an UTC-ALERT to pause campus operations and classes, and advise people to move to the previously mentioned shelter areas above.

On May 22, one of the deadliest tornadoes in U.S. history struck Joplin, Mo., killing 159 people and injuring more than 1,000. A National Weather Service Central Region Service Assessment from the U.S. Department of Commerce released in July examined the emergency warnings and response to those warnings during the tornado. Since these storms, it has been determined that the Joplin residents did not take heed in their warnings. Instead, the majority of Joplin residents did not take protective action. Do not wait for further confirmation! Listen to warnings and take action!