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Severe Weather Emergencies

  1. Overview
  2. Thunderstorms
  3. Tornadoes
  4. Hurricanes
  5. Floods
  6. Interior Flooding


The Grounds Department is responsible for monitoring weather conditions and notifying the campus community if/when the threat of such weather warrants special attention or actions. During potential severe weather conditions, Campus Safety monitors other local and state emergency response agencies, including the Keene Fire and Police Departments.

During any weather watch or warning check campus communications frequently. For your safety and for the safety of those around you, respond quickly to all instructions from campus and emergency officials.


Severe Thunderstorm Watch: Indicates that weather conditions are such that a severe thunderstorm may develop. Monitor weather reports and campus notifications. If at all possible, stay indoors until the threat has passed.

Severe Thunderstorm Warning: A severe thunderstorm has developed and will probably affect those areas stated in the weather bulletin. Stay indoors until the threat has passed.


Tornado Watch: Indicates that weather conditions in the area are favorable for the formation of tornadoes. During a watch, normal activities should continue unless you are instructed otherwise by College emergency staff or the administration. All departments should have staff available to monitor communications and disseminate messages. Communications should be monitored as long as scheduled uses of the buildings continue. All watches are cancelled by official notification only.

Tornado Warning: Indicates that a tornado has been sighted and is a threat to the area.

  • When a tornado warning has been issued for Cheshire County, campus officials and all available emergency and facilities personnel will notify all occupants in a building to move to the safest area for that building.
  • The safest area in a building during a tornado is usually the basement or an interior hallway of the lowest floor.
  • Seek shelter under sturdy furniture if no basement is available.
  • If outside and unable to get to a building, lie flat in the nearest depression, ditch, or ravine.
  • Never wait out a tornado inside a car.
  • Tornado warnings are cancelled by official notification only.


Hurricane/Tropical Storm Watch: Indicates that current tracking shows a storm moving in a path that may take it over a certain area. During watches, College staff will work together to determine the best course of action to prevent injury and property damage on the campus. Normal activities should continue unless instructed otherwise by College officials. All departments should have staff available to monitor communications and disseminate messages. Communications should be monitored as long as scheduled uses of the buildings continue. All watches are cancelled by official notification only.

Hurricane Warning: Indicates that a hurricane is expected in the area within 24 hours. Your response and the response of the College to the warning will vary based upon the storm’s intensity. Possible actions include school closings, evacuation, shelter-in-place, cancellation of sporting events, and preparations to secure buildings and equipment.


The campus area along the Ashuelot River is prone to occasional flooding, which may result in the declaration of a flood emergency. Flood emergencies can result in the partial or full evacuation of Campus facilities, including residence halls, student and staff parking lots, the Redfern Arts Center and the Spaulding Gymnasium.

During potential flooding conditions, Grounds and Campus Safety will monitor reports of flooding through consultation with other local and state emergency response agencies. If conditions or reports warrant, a flood emergency will be declared and students, faculty, and staff will be directed to move vehicles and/or evacuate parts of the campus. The decision to implement evacuations will be based upon Campus needs, with the overall goal to be the preservation of life and then property.

All efforts will be made to communicate the evacuations in a timely manner. However, in the event of sudden flooding, such as during an ice dam or a flash flood, notification may not allow for much, if any, time to move vehicles or personal belongings. When instructed to move a vehicle or evacuate a building or area, do so immediately. If you leave your vehicle on campus over weekends and breaks when you are not on campus, make sure someone else on or near campus has your keys and can move your vehicle if necessary.

Interior Flooding

In the event of interior flooding from a broken water line:

  • Immediately contact the Physical Plant or Campus Safety to notify them of the situation. Inform them immediately if any oil, chemical, or other potentially hazardous materials are suspected of contaminating the flood waters.
  • If possible, secure any vital equipment or records and other important papers.
  • Shut off all electrical equipment only if you can do so without standing in water.
  • Secure all laboratory equipment in the same manner.
  • Evacuate the affected area.
Emergency Handbook – Page 9 of 12

About this Policy

Ownership: Environmental Health and Safety; Campus Safety
Last Modified: Mar 25, 2021 –
Categories: Safety
For questions regarding this policy, please contact the policy owner.
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