News

UNCW Ready for 2017 Hurricane Season and October Multi-Campus Preparedness Exercise

Monday, June 12, 2017

The 2017 Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30, but preparing for potential severe weather and other emergencies is a year-round priority at UNCW.

This year, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is forecasting 11 to 17 named storms, of which five to nine could become hurricanes and two to four could be major hurricanes, those classified as Category 3 and above. The estimates from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration include Tropical Storm Arlene, which formed in April.

UNCW students, faculty and staff should be familiar with campus emergency procedures and communications and have personal preparedness plans at home, according to Eric Griffin, emergency manager and assistant director of UNCW's Office of Environmental Health & Safety.

“By being personally prepared for hurricanes, as well as other emergencies, students, faculty and staff contribute to the overall safety and security on our campus and in the community,” he said. Griffin cautioned that it only takes one storm to cause major damage, personal injury or loss of life.

EH&S coordinates the university’s federally compliant hurricane procedures and closely monitors tropical conditions in collaboration with local, state and federal agencies. In the event of tropical weather in the vicinity of the UNCW main campus or satellite locations, the Office of University Relations and EH&S work together to keep the campus community informed of delays, closings and other weather-related information.

New this year, the National Hurricane Center will have the option to issue advisories, watches and warnings for disturbances prior to tropical cyclone formation. The National Weather Service also will issue storm-surge watches and warnings to highlight areas of potentially life-threatening coastal flooding.

Large-Scale Readiness Drill Planned in October

In October, UNCW and other UNC-system campuses will test their hurricane readiness during a drill involving a hypothetical Category 5 storm, “Hurricane Zephyr.” UNCW will take the lead in the Oct. 13-18 exercise, which will involve 12 other UNC campuses, UNC General Administration, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and state and local emergency management officials.

“The purpose is to test our assumptions, plans, training and equipment and to strengthen the system’s mutual aid procedures,” Griffin said. It is the first test of the UNC system’s response plans in the event of a catastrophic storm, he added. The exercise will involve 175-200 people at UNCW, including students, faculty and staff.

Resources

Below are some of the resources available to UNCW faculty, staff and students in the event of an emergency. Griffin urges students and employees to sign up for automated alerts and to monitor the UNCW homepage, weather forecasts and local media reports for updated information.

UNCW Emergency Communication Tools

Additional Tools for Urgent Situations

  • Seahawk Warning siren system
  • UNCW Alert mass phone calls and/or text messages for faculty, staff and students
  • To receive UNCW Alert messages, log onto mySeaport, scroll down the left side navigation and click “Register to Receive UNCW Emergency Texts.” Provide/update your phone number and/or email address. Click “submit.”

Hurricane-Related Resources

 -- Tricia Vance

#EH&S
#BA