What to Do Around Severe Spring & Summer Weather
Monday, April 10, 2023 - 11:40

With it being spring in Minnesota, it is important to review tornado or severe storm information. The National Weather Service characterizes severe weather with a ‘watch’ or a ‘warning:’

  • Severe Weather Watch - Means that conditions are right for severe weather to develop rapidly (even if the sky seems clear). You don't need to cancel plans, but watch the skies, and be ready to act if the weather deteriorates.
  • Severe Weather Warning - Means that the severe weather is happening now! The National Weather Service will sound the sirens in the event of tornado warnings, but not in the event of other severe storms. Lightning, heavy rain, strong winds, or large hail may accompany these storms.
Warning Systems

The University uses the following systems to warn of impending severe weather and other emergencies:

  • Outdoor Warning System - The Siren Alert Signal (often called the "tornado siren") is a five-minute steady tone sounded over our outdoor siren system. Most often used in severe weather, it is not only a tornado alert; this siren simply means that you should turn on your radio or television for information and recommended action. This system is tested on the first Wednesday of every month at 1:00 p.m.
  • Tone Alert Radio - The Tone Alert Radio or "TAR," is a one-way radio receiver that may or may not be in department offices. UMPD will activate the radio anytime there is urgent information regarding a situation affecting the Twin Cities campus. For example:
    • Severe weather (tornado, thunderstorm) watches or warnings
    • Street/building closures due to fire, gas leak, chemical spill, etc
    • "All-clear" messages after any of the following
  • Safe-U Alerts - Safe-U alerts are issued upon the confirmation of a significant emergency or dangerous situation that poses an immediate threat to campus. They inform the campus community of immediate action steps that will help preserve safety. 
Taking Shelter

Go to the basement, pedestrian tunnel or an inner hallway on a lower floor. Stay away from building entrances and windows. If building is of reinforced construction, stay inside. Avoid auditoriums, gymnasiums, (large areas with poorly supported roofs), glass areas, and temporary buildings. Evacuate the top floor. Use the telephone ONLY to report emergencies. Dial 9-1-1 on campus.


Seek shelter inside the nearest permanent structure, preferably in a basement, underground excavation, or a steel framed or reinforced concrete building. If time does not allow you to get inside, lie flat in the nearest depression, ditch, or ravine.

Parking and Transportation Tips

Listed below are some general actions and guidelines to follow:

  • Parking Ramps/Garages – Evacuate to the lowest level of the facility if it is below grade or to the nearest building per the guidelines listed above for being outside.
  • Surface Lots - Evacuate to the nearest building and follow the guidelines listed above for being outside.
  • Vehicles - If you are driving a vehicle on campus proceed to the nearest structured parking facility, or building.

April 17 through 21 is Severe Weather Awareness Week.  Being prepared and having an action plan is important to ensure your safety. Have a great spring and summer!

All PTS News

Depending on where you notice the pothole, it could be a campus or city street. 

Metro Transit is embarking on an 18-month project, Network Now, that will help make decisions that best respond to the needs of the communities they serve.  

Beginning on November 22, 2022 (weather-dependent), Parking & Transportation Services (PTS) will close the Riverside vehicle entrance and all southern pedestrian access points to enter the 19th Avenue Ramp as a pilot project.

Bicycle Friendly Driver training is available online for free. Join the interactive online class that can teach drivers how to share the road with bicyclists.