University Safety and Assurances

Tornado Safety

Stoughton Tornado

April 21st-25th, 2014 is Tornado and Severe Weather Awareness Week in Wisconsin, and all state agencies, including UW-Milwaukee and the University of Wisconsin System, are to conduct tornado drills during that week. The purpose of the awareness campaign is to remind people of the dangers associated with tornadoes, thunderstorms, flooding and hail and to encourage citizens to take protective safety measures such as developing a personal preparedness plan and putting together a disaster supply kit.

The purpose of campus participation in a tornado drill is to ensure that faculty, staff and students know what to do and where to go should a tornado or severe weather event occur. The Department of University Safety and Assurances will coordinate drills in all buildings on the UWM campus on Thursday, April 24th.

Tornado Siren on East Chambers Street

Tornado Warning Alert Siren

Click on link to hear the audible tornado warning alert siren: Tornado Warning Alert SirenAudio Clip

A "Tornado Warning" indicates a tornado has been sighted and you should immediately take shelter. The "Tornado Warning" signal is a steady blast three minutes or longer in duration. There is no "All Clear" signal.

There are 48 outdoor warning sirens located throughout Milwaukee County. The warning siren nearest to the UWM campus is located at 1311 E. Chambers Street. These sirens are only intended to be heard outside to alert people to take shelter indoors. A full sounding of the sirens is done at noon on the second Wednesday of each month (weather permitting).

In the Event a Tornado Warning is Issued for the UWM Campus:

Building occupants should seek shelter in designated areas. A basement area or an inner corridor, away from windows and doors, are classic shelter areas. See the recommended shelter areas for campus buildings below.

If for some reason you are unable to flee to a safer area, get under a desk, heavy table or other object that could shield you from flying debris. Evacuation to a shelter or safer area is best, however.

Note that tornadoes can occur quickly and they last an average of seven minutes, so time is of the essence. If the weather looks threatening, monitor local media or the UWM Weather Bulletin Service http://www4.uwm.edu/news/weather/ for weather updates. Typically a "Tornado Watch" will be issued when conditions are favorable for a tornado. A "Tornado Warning" will be issued either when a tornado has been sighted or when the National Weather Service doppler radar detects tornado wind conditions. Please see detailed explanations of these alerts below.

Recommendations for Individuals with a Disability:

  1. Mobility impaired-wheelchair-elevator to shelter
  2. Mobility impaired, non-wheelchair-elevator to shelter
  3. Hearing impaired, inform of announcement and shelter advice
  4. Visually impaired, offer elbow and assist to shelter

Shelter Recommendations for Campus Buildings:

UWM tornado shelter area placard

Tornado Shelter Area signs have been posted in each campus building. Each building link below opens to a map showing the location of the tornado shelters in your building.

  • Alumni House: First floor building occupants should seek shelter in the basement. Second floor building occupants can use the center hallway as a shelter area.
  • Architecture and Urban Planning (AUP): Seek shelter in basement hallways (e.g., carpentry shop), or in auditorium rooms 110 and 170, or enclosed north stairwell of north tower. Avoid all rooms, hallways and stairwells with exterior windows or display glass.
  • Art: Seek shelter in stairwells or basement hallway. Avoid upper levels, rooms with skylights and exterior rooms/hallways with windows or display glass.
  • Arts-Lecture Building: Due to the large roof area and exterior glass windows in the lecture hall (both are structurally hazardous during a tornado), occupants are advised to seek shelter in the Fine Arts Theatre basement.
  • Bolton: Seek shelter in basement level or in the Business Administration Building's parking structure. On the first floor of Bolton, Room 150 can serve as a shelter area. Seconds count -- if it is not possible to move quickly to a lower level, move to a center, windowless area of the building. Restrooms and interior stairwells provide good protection. Avoid all exterior rooms.
  • Business: Shelters are located on every floor and are listed below.
    -Parking Garage: Shelter in place
    -First Floor: N110, N116, N140, N146, S151, S191 and S195
    -Second Floor: N234A, N234B, N234C, N243, N258, N262, N286, N288, S220, S230, and S250
    -Third Floor: N330,N333, N334, North West Hallway, N352, N354, N368, N389 North East Hallway,S311, S319, S341, and South East Hallway
    -Forth Floor: N450, N456, N458, N458B, N474, N476, N482, N484, N486, N488, North East Hallway, and South Hallway
  • Chapman: Seek shelter in central hallway of first floor or in interior rooms and restrooms. Avoid upper levels and all windows or exterior rooms.
  • Chemistry: Seek shelter in basement or south wing lecture halls (Rooms 170, 180 and 190). Seconds count -- if it is not possible to move quickly to a lower level, move to a center, windowless area of the building. Restrooms and interior stairwells provide good protection. Avoid all exterior rooms, laboratories, hallways, stairwells and lobby areas with windows or display glass.
  • Cunningham: Rooms G 93, 107, 151 and 195 are designated shelter areas. Other areas in the building include sub-basement, basement level one, floor 2, floor 3 or in stairwells. Classes in room G 40 may remain in classrroom. Seconds count -- if it is not possible to move quickly to a lower level, move to a center, windowless area of the building. Restrooms and interior stairwells provide good protection. Avoid all exterior rooms or lobby areas with windows and areas near windows or display glass.
  • Curtin: Seek shelter in basement or stairwells. Seconds count -- if it is not possible to move quickly to a lower level, move to a center, windowless area of the building. Restrooms and interior stairwells provide good protection. Avoid all exterior rooms or lobby areas with windows, skylights or display glass.
  • Eastlake Tower: Seek shelter in the east stairwell. Proceed to lowest level of the stairwell.
  • Enderis: Rooms 103, 107, 109, 110, 115 and 127 have been designated as shelter areas. Other shelter areas are in the basement or stairwells. Seconds count -- if it is not possible to move quickly to a lower level, move to a center, windowless area of the building. Restrooms and interior stairwells provide good protection. Avoid all exterior rooms or lobby areas with windows or display glass.
  • Engineering and Mathematical Sciences (EMS): Seek shelter in basement, Rooms E180 and E190, stairwells or lower level of the parking structure.

    Stairwell P should not be used at all for any emergency where the occupants are to remain in the building. The upper floors can be exposed to the elements should the roof door blow open (which it does with moderate winds) and the first floor requires you to exit the building.

    First through fourth floors (except for the extreme western portions known as the "heavy wing") should be directed to the lowest level of the parking structure in the sub-basement (B140) down stairwells 'T', 'Q'and 'R. The 'heavy wing' should go down either the 'west Q' or 'west R' stairwell to the designated tornado shelter area.

    Seconds count -- if it is not possible to move quickly to a lower level, move to a center, windowless area of the building. Restrooms and interior stairwells provide good protection. Avoid all exterior rooms or lobby areas with windows or display glass.

  • Engelmann: Seek shelter in basement hallway. Avoid spaces that are opposite doorways or openings into rooms that have windows in the exterior walls. Close doors to offices and rooms along the north and south sides of the building to contain potential flying glass from exterior windows.
  • Garland: Seek shelter in basement. Avoid all exterior rooms and upper levels.
  • Greene Hall: Seek shelter in basement. Avoid all upper levels and exterior rooms.
  • Greene Museum: All occupants should seek shelter in the interior restroom. This is the only central, windowless area.
  • Hefter: Seek shelter in the basement. Door to basement will be kept unlocked whenever building is occupied during the tornado season.
  • Holton: Seek shelter in basement. Avoid spaces that are opposite doorways or openings into rooms that have windows in the exterior walls. Close doors to offices and rooms along the west side of the building to contain potential flying glass from exterior windows. Avoid all upper levels and exterior rooms.
  • Honors House: Seek shelter in interior spaces without windows.
  • Johnston: Seek shelter in basement. Avoid all upper levels and exterior rooms.
  • Klotsche Center: Seek shelter in First floor corridor, racquetball courts and locker rooms.

    Pavilion: Seek shelter in the Athletic Suite, Athletic Locker Rooms and Health Sciences Suite - Interior rooms and hallways

    All other areas - Klotsche Center first floor corridor and Pavilion parking levels G2-G5 (NOT the first (top) level of the parking garage)

  • Kunkle Center: Seek shelter in:
    • The basement hallway between the Preschool Gym and the double doors just outside the men's/women's restroom

    • The inner hallway outside room 113 and the Business Office on the lower level
    • The staff lounge area (Room 111)
    • Blue Room's nap area (Room 101)

    If in the hallway, stay in the interior corridor until the "All Clear" is given.

  • Lapham Science Center: Seek shelter in basement, or hallways and rooms with no exterior windows or display glass. Avoid all rooms, lobby areas, hallways and stairwells with exterior windows or display glass.
  • Library: Seek shelter in the interior spaces of the building away from exterior and interior windows, such as the microfilm room, compact shelving-west (basement), east basement shelving, or stairwells with no exterior glass. Avoid the first floor areas of the east and west wings, the glass enclosed stairwell and lobbies, overhead walkway between the two wings and compact shelving-east study area.

    People in the east wing of the library should not attempt to cross over to the west wing. It is better to seek shelter in one of the designated interior rooms.)

    First Floor: Students studying in the Grind and East Wing study areas (including the area near E 159) should take shelter in Room E 175 (the Learning Technology Center Office). There is a doorway in E 175 that leads to a hallway that could also be accessed if all students don't fit in E 175. If there is a Library Instruction Session in E 159, then all students will remain in that room. Room E 157 is also an appropriate shelter area. All CIPD staff can remain in their respective offices as there are no windows in these offices. These offices can also be used as shelter areas (E 177, E 178 and E 179).

    Second Floor: Shelter areas are rooms E 281 (can accommodate approximately 100), E 297 (Women's Restroom), E 255 (Men's Restroom). Occupants may also be directed to the east exterior stairwell (E 200W).

    Third Floor: E 397 (Women's Restroom), E 355 (Men's Restroom) and the center stairwell.

  • Mellencamp: Use east staircase to seek shelter in basement. Interior, windowless offices should also provide adequate protection. Avoid upper levels, exterior rooms and stairways with windows.
  • Merrill: Seek shelter in basement hallways. Avoid upper levels and exterior rooms.
  • Mitchell: Seek shelter in basement, away from windows. Avoid upper levels and exterior rooms.
  • Music: Seek shelter in basement.
  • Norris: Staff to draw blinds in their offices or rooms to contain possible flying glass and debris. Seek shelter in basement hallway or basement rooms without exterior windows: B-10, B-14, B-20, B-24 and B-26.

    RN/MA should assist disabled occupants in moving to the basement shelter.

    1. Mobility impaired-wheelchair-elevator to shelter

    2. Mobility impaired, non-wheelchair-elevator to shelter
    3. Hearing impaired, inform of announcement and shelter advice
    4. Visually impaired, offer elbow and assist to shelter
  • Northwest Quad: Seek shelter in basement hallways. Use Interior Stairwell P to access shelter area.  Floors 5-7 can shelter in Interior Stairwell P or in interior bathrooms, breakrooms, or offices.  Room 1480, 1526, and the kitchen area by The Grind and Restor are shelter areas on the first floor.
  • Pearse: Seek shelter in basement. Avoid all exterior rooms and upper levels.
  • Physics Building: Seek shelter in basement, or hallways away from windows. Avoid all, exterior rooms, ground floor lobby and breezeway between Physics and Olson Planetarium.
  • Plankinton Building: Seek shelter in interior rooms/stairwells away from windows. WUWM employees should seek shelter in the basement.
  • Power Plant: Seek shelter in basement.
  • Purin: Seek shelter in basement or parking garage. Avoid windows and louvers.
  • Sabin: Seek shelter in basement hallway or basement-level interior rooms. Avoid all exterior rooms and upper levels, and any area near windows or display glass.
  • Sandburg Residence Halls:
    1. Response teams will evacuate residents and guests from rooms on 3rd floor common area spaces into a tower lounge or stairwell. Security/RA response teams will also make announcements asking residents and guests to move to the lounges.
    2. Guest registration and monitors will shut down and secure main entrance and direct lobby patrons to the first floor lounge and/or stairwells in the South Tower.
    3. Wait for further instructions from Residential Programming Staff Member on duty or University Housing Administration.

    Residents will be instructed to:

    1. Stay Away from Windows. Close drapes and draw blinds to contain possible flying glass.
    2. Move to an Interior part of the building, preferably with an interior wall between them and the approaching tornado. Multi-storied University buildings are strongly reinforced and offer more than adequate protection structurally, particularly on the lower floors.
  • Theater: Seek shelter in basement. Avoid lobby and any rooms and hallways with exterior glass or skylights.
  • Union:
    • If an event is taking place in the Wisconsin Room, occupants will be directed to the Union Cinema.
    • Third floor occupants should go to the north and west stair towers and continue down stairs into basement.
    • Second floor occupants should go to the north and west stair towers and continue down stairs into basement.
    • First floor building occupants (Food Court) move to Alumni Fireside Lounge (West 140) or south stairway and continue down stairs into basement.
    • Credit Union staff and customers will exit to stairwell West 100 T.
    • Bookstore staff and occupants will go to Bookstore basement area.
    • Ground floor occupants will go down the east stairs to the basement and then to Gasthaus or the Recreation Center

    Avoid the north enclosure (e.g., atrium/food court), Ballroom, Wisconsin Room, lobbies and any other area with windows, display glass or skylights.

  • University Services Building: Seek shelter in an enclosed, windowless area in the center of the building. Occupants of the first floor who have enclosed concrete block offices can remain in their office. Second floor occupants should move to the first floor inner corridors.
  • Vogel Hall: Seek shelter in interior room without windows (Room 110).
  • WATER Institute / Great Lakes Research Facility: Seek shelter in auditorium area outside the main office. Keep bay doors closed during tornado emergency.
  • Zelazo: Seek shelter in interior rooms: 174, 188 and 192; avoid rooms with exterior windows or display glass.
  • Zilber School of Public Health:  First Floor Shelters:  Rooms 122, 128, 156A, 156B, 195 & center stairwell.  Second Floor Rooms: 210H-N, 232, 236, 250A-C, 281A-E, 290& center stairwell.  Third Floor Rooms: 332, 336, 394, 396, 397, 398 & center stairwell. Fourth Floor Rooms: 406, 432, 436, 485, 490, 491, 493, 495, 496, 498, 499, & center stairwell.  Fifth Floor Rooms:  518, 520, 522, 572, 576, 580, 582, 585, & center stairwell.

 

 

"All Clear" Notification

"All Clear" notifications are made by the National Weather Service and are announced by local media. If warranted, an "All Clear" notification will be made by the University Police. The University Police are in radio contact with the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office, which is also in charge of County Emergency Government, and appropriate weather outlets. After a tornado on campus, normal communications may not be available. Therefore, University Police and their designees (e.g. safety staff; Facility Services personnel;) may use squad car PA systems, bull horns, or personnel to move from building to building to announce the "All Clear".

Alternatively, campus occupants are encouraged to tune to the local media or the UWM Weather Bulletin Service http://www4.uwm.edu/news/weather/ or weather updates.

How Big a Threat are Tornadoes to UWM?

The UWM campus has never been struck by a tornado. However, twisters have been sighted near campus in years past. There is nothing about the UWM environment that would render it any more immune to tornadoes than any other piece of land in the Midwest. Contrary to popular belief, neither an urban environment nor the presence of Lake Michigan will do anything at all to deter or deflect a tornado. Tornadoes have been spotted in all areas of Milwaukee County. The fact that no large loss of life has occurred here is due simply to good luck and random chance. Other urban areas in the Midwest have been struck by tornadoes, with heavy loss of life and property damage.

How Will I Know If Conditions Are Right For Tornado Formation?

The National Weather Service will notify the University Police and other area law enforcement agencies via teletype if a "Tornado Watch" is in effect. This condition means that weather conditions are favorable for the formation of a tornado, but that no tornadoes have yet been sighted. In all 2,000 mediated classrooms on campus, any VCR tuner connected to our Campus Cable Network can be tuned to either the Milwaukee Weather Channel (Channel 7) or the NOAA weather station for the Milwaukee area located in Delafield (Channel 27). Otherwise, if you have a radio or television in your office, tune to local radio and TV stations and listen continuously for weather updates. Be alert to changing weather conditions and look and listen for signs of an approaching tornado. Signs such as blowing debris or a sound often described as a roar or a sound similar to an approaching freight train can mean a tornado is nearby.

How Will I Know if a Tornado Has Actually Been Sighted?

In the event of a "Tornado Warning", the National Weather Service will alert local agencies that a tornado has actually been sighted, either visually or by radar. Information will be transmitted over local radio and TV stations. A variety of notification methods will be used to direct all people on campus to seek shelter.

In all 2,000 mediated classrooms on campus, any VCR tuner connected to our Campus Cable Network can be tuned to either the Milwaukee Weather Channel (Channel 7) or the NOAA weather station for the Milwaukee area located in Delafield (Channel 27).

In addition, Milwaukee County Emergency Government will sound their warning sirens. The tornado "Warning Signal" is a steady blast three minutes or longer in duration. There is no "All Clear" signal.

What Should I do if a Tornado Threatens the Campus?

First, do not attempt to flee the tornado by foot or automobile. Twisters can move much faster than you can. Do not seek shelter in or under your car.

Secondly, move to a location inside the building away from windows or glass. Most injuries related to tornadoes are caused by flying broken glass or other debris. An interior stairwell, hallway, or room on the lowest floor or in the basement is best, as long as it is away from windows. Contrary to popular belief, the southwest corner of a building is no safer than any other corner of the building. You may want to consider moving to another building if necessary. The Union, Lubar School of Business, or EMS parking structures would provide excellent shelter, but not the open design of the Sandburg parking structure. Avoid auditoriums, gymnasiums, or other spaces with wide, free-span roofs.

How Long do Tornadoes Last and How Fast do They Move?

Detailed statistics about the time a tornado is on the ground or how quickly they move are not available. Their duration can range from an instant to several hours, but a typical tornado lasts approximately 5 minutes or so. Their movement can range from virtually stationary to more than 60 miles per hour. Typically, they move at roughly 10-20 miles per hour.

Training Information