During Severe Weather
- Listen to your National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather radio for emergency information (see "Note on NOAA weather radio" section).
- Check the WWU Main website or Emergency and Weather Information websites for University-related information.
- Be aware of University policies for inclement weather and suspended operations.
Ice, Snow and Cold
- Wear several layers of loose-fitting light weight clothing and sturdy boots with good tread.
Severe Thunderstorms & Microbursts
(Very high winds in a limited area)
- Stay indoors, and do not exit the building or use elevators.
- Stay away from all windows and large glass objects.
- Interior stairwells are usually good places to take shelter, and if not crowded, will allow you to get to a lower level quickly. Crouch down and cover your head.
- Avoid being underneath heavier objects such as lights, wall hangings and other items which may fall.
- Remain inside until the storm has passed or you are cleared to leave.
- Do not use matches or lighters, in case of leaking natural gas pipes or fuel tanks nearby.
- Help direct people with special needs to a safe place, as necessary.
- If instructed to evacuate, see the Building Evacuation section of this guide.
- Move away from trees, buildings, walls and power lines.
- Stay away from power lines and puddles with wires in them, they may be “live”.
- Do not use matches or lighters, in case of leaking gas pipes or fuel tanks.
- Remain in position until noise and high winds have stopped.
- Do not enter any building that is deemed or looks unsafe.
- University Police will provide instruction for immediate actions as needed.
- Seek protective shelter immediately.
- If outdoors, do not stand underneath tall isolated objects. Seek shelter in a low area under a thick growth of small trees. In open areas, seek a low spot such as a ravine or valley.
- Get off or away from open water.
- Keep away from metal equipment or small metal vehicles such as motorcycles, bicycles, golf carts, etc. Stay away from wire fences, clotheslines, metal pipes, and rails. If you are in a group in the open, spread out, keeping people 15 to 20 feet apart.
- Lightning may strike some miles from the parent cloud. If you feel your hair stand on end, lightning may be about to strike. Drop to a low crouching position with your feet together. Get onto the balls of your feet as possible to minimize ground contact. Put your hands over your ears to minimize acoustic shock from thunder and place your head between your knees. Do not lie flat on the ground.
- Listen to NOAA weather radio (see "Note on NOAA weather radio" section), local radio or television stations for information.
- Be aware of streams, drainage channels and areas known to flood suddenly.
- If local authorities issue a flood watch (possibility of widespread flooding) or warning (unusually severe ponding of water), prepare to evacuate.
- Evacuate to higher ground immediately.
- Do not attempt to drive over flooded roads. The depth of water is not always obvious. The road bed may be washed out under the water, and you could be stranded or trapped.
- Follow instructions from local authorities for immediate action.
- Use extreme caution around electrical appliances or outlets near water.
Note on NOAA Weather Radio
NOAA Weather Radio (NWR) requires a special radio receiver or scanner capable of picking up the signal. Broadcasts are found in the VHF public service band at seven VHF frequencies from 162.400MHz to 162.550 MHz. Listen to NWR online at weather.gov/nwr/
Students, faculty and staff who are unable to get to Western because of dangerous conditions may decide to remain home, even if the university is open. Each decision is a personal one and should be made according to individual judgment. Staff should contact their supervisors if they will be unable to get to work on time because of the weather conditions. See Western's Inclement Weather and Suspended Operations policies for more information. Faculty should make every effort to notify students of any class cancellations. Also, see directions for using Canvas to make announcements.
Our policy is to empower individual faculty to make their own decisions regarding cancellations. This reflects Western’s view that individual faculty members know the circumstances of their classrooms best. In the vast majority of circumstances, the approach is effective. Faculty members should communicate to students via e-mail or Canvas well ahead of time if they have to cancel a class. Similarly, students who cannot get to class should let their professor know. We recommend that faculty members communicate ahead of time as much as possible if a class must be canceled. The recommended method for faculty to apprise students of class cancellations is via announcements in Canvas. More information on class cancellations from ATUS.
The university advises faculty members to balance concern for student learning and accountability with concern for student safety. If a class is not canceled, but a student feels they are unable to safely travel to campus or traverse campus to attend class, the student should promptly contact their professors via email to inform them of their absence and inquire about missed coursework if applicable. Students who feel that they have been unfairly penalized for classes they missed due to bad weather should first speak with the faculty members involved. If those conversations do not resolve the issues, students should contact each faculty member's department chair.
Campus members with disabilities are advised to exercise extra care when traversing campus. Students with disabilities who are concerned with safety are encouraged to communicate directly with their professors if they may be absent from class due to winter conditions. Absences for students with disabilities due to winter conditions merit accommodation, so communication with faculty about modifications and adjustments of deadlines or examinations is appropriate. Staff and faculty with disabilities who may experience difficulty traveling to campus or traversing campus should communicate directly with their supervisors.
During inclement weather, as at all times, unauthorized vehicles are prohibited from parking in disability parking spaces. Please contact Parking Services at (360) 650-2945 immediately if an unauthorized vehicle is blocking access to a disability parking space. Also note, vehicles with a valid state disability permit (and a Western Washington University permit from Monday-Friday 7:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.) may park in disabled parking spaces in any lot on campus, regardless of the location of any parking permit. More information about Parking Disability Access Information.
The Starlight Shuttle service is a late-night transportation service for Western students only. The service is funded by the Student Transportation Fee and managed by Transportation Services. A valid Western card is shown to the driver when boarding. Service may be canceled during ice and snow conditions because roadways are not sanded or plowed during late night hours.
WTA is a local public transit service serving Bellingham and Whatcom County. During ice and snow, some WTA routes may be detoured or delayed. WTA provides Twitter alerts for service updates.
No, not at all. When the university closes, it cancels classes. However, university residence halls remain open and the residential and retail dining outlets will remain open per scheduled hours as much as possible. Other university services will generally continue to be provided.
When the university closes/’suspends operations’ due to snow or other weather issues WWU Libraries, the Student Health Center and the Wade King Student Recreation Center also close. Dining halls and dorms will remain open, however, retail dining options and service hours may be reduced.
- Video – How to Prepare for Winter Storm
- Video – When the Clouds Form
- Video – Winter Driving Preparation
- Video – Turn Around, Don’t Drown
- Website – Ready.gov: Winter Weather
- Website – Ready.gov: Floods
- Website – Ready.gov: Thunderstorms & Lightning