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Severe Weather

Learn how you can GET READY and TAKE ACTION for most types of severe weather that is possible on and off CMU's campus. 

Severe Thunderstorms

Severe thunderstorms have winds of 58 mph or higher and/or hail 1 inch in diameter or larger.

  • If you hear thunder, lightning is close enough to harm you.
  • If outside, go indoors to a building or your vehicle.
  • Close blinds/shades in case windows break due to blowing objects.
  • Do not take a bath or a shower during a thunderstorm.
  • Prepare for the power to go out.


Tornados are violent rotating columns of air and debris. Tornados develop from severe thunderstorms.

  • IMMEDIATELY shelter in the lowest, centermost part of a building.
    • If outside, GO in a building. Do NOT shelter in a vehicle.
  • PROTECT yourself by putting sturdy objects around you (desks, books).
  • STAY sheltered until the storm has completely passed (could be 20-30 minutes).
  • CMU's Identified Shelter Locations.
  • Learn more about tornado safety at CMU


Floods can occur over time due to excessive rainfall, a large amount of rain in a specific area in a short duration, or from a pipe break.

  • Head for high ground and stay away from the water.
  • The most dangerous thing you can do is to try walking, swimming, or driving through such swift water.
    • When driving and water is over the roadway, turn around, don't drown.

Winter Weather

  • Try NOT to travel during severe winter weather (blizzards or freezing rain).
  • If you must travel, take extra time. Be careful when walking in parking lots, steps, ramps and when driving.If you must go outside, several layers of lightweight clothing will keep you warmer than a single heavy coat.
  • Gloves or mittens and a hat will prevent loss of body heat. Cover your mouth to protect your lungs.

'Watch' vs. 'Warning'

  • Winter storm WATCH: A winter storm is possible in your area.
  • Winter storm WARNING: A winter storm is headed for your area.
  • Blizzard WARNING: Strong winds, blinding wind-driven snow, and dangerous wind chill are expected. Seek shelter immediately!

If you get stuck during the winter:

  • Stay in your car. Do not try to walk to safety.
  • Tie a brightly colored cloth (preferably red) to the antenna for rescuers to see.
  • Start the car and use the heater for about 10 minutes every hour. Keep the exhaust pipe clear so fumes won't back up in the car.
  • Leave the overhead light on when the engine is running so that you can be seen.
  • As you sit, keep moving your arms and legs to keep blood circulating and to stay warm.
  • Keep one window away from the blowing wind slightly open to let in the fresh air.
For specific criteria relating to various watches and warnings, visit the NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE website.