The University of Iowa

Emergency Information

Severe Weather

Severe Weather Notification

If the UI issues a weather-related Hawk Alert, a warning will go out by phone, text, and e-mail via the Hawk Alert system, a banner will appear across the top of the UI homepage, and the latest information will be posted on the university's Emergency Information site.

Weather and Road Conditions

Severe Weather Policy

Whenever possible, the University continues to function during inclement weather. Individuals should use good judgment and avoid serious risks in traveling to campus or in attending classes. Link to full policy.

Students with clinical duties should consult with their preceptors or supervising faculty.  University offices remain open in accordance with the UI Operations Manual.  Employees should report as scheduled, safety permitting. Organizers of non-academic events are responsible for the decision about cancellation for their event.

Preparing for Severe Weather

  • Make sure that your notification information is up to date on the university Hawk Alert System.  Hawk Alert is a campus wide notification system, text and voice messaging, and email notifications.
  • Consider signing up for free weather alerts offered by local and news outlets that can be sent to your phone or email address.

Outdoor Sirens

The University of Iowa also has its own outdoor warning (siren) system. The system will be activated in conjunction with other sirens in the area to alert the public of impending severe weather.

Winter Weather

Area School Closings and Cancellations

Check for up-to-date area school closings, delays, and area event cancellations:

Make Life Easier—Ride the Bus

When the weather's bad, you can save yourself a lot of hassle by taking the bus. Also, if there are fewer cars on campus, crews can do a better job of clearing snow from the parking lots. Check out the schedules:

Need a jump-start?

The Parking and Transportation Department offers free jump-start service for employees, students, and visitors parked on the university’s main campus. Motorist assistance is offered on an as-available basis from 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The service is not offered on university holidays. 

To request service, call 319-335-8312. A dispatcher will gather contact information and other details and provide an estimated arrival time. To help service providers spot the vehicle, callers should raise the hood and wait in or near their vehicle.

Parking and Transportation Department staff cannot provide mechanical assistance or advice. If a vehicle will not start after getting a jump, the driver will be encouraged to contact a professional service provider.

Snow Removal

Crews begin shoveling snow at 5 a.m. or earlier, with the goal of having most of the snow cleared from campus streets, sidewalks, steps, and other areas (including Oakdale) by 7:30 a.m. Plows head onto campus from the Madison Street shop and move outward through their routes.

Who to Call

If you have concerns about unsafe conditions or snow removal in a specific area, call one of the numbers below:

  • To report a problem in a parking lot, call Parking and Transportation at 335-8312. 
  • For all other areas, call Facilities Management Work Control Center at 335-5071.

Tornado and Severe Thunderstorms

Tornado and Thunderstorm Terms

  • A tornado watch means conditions are right for the development of a tornado or severe weather. During a watch, staff should be alert to weather conditions.
  • A tornado warning means that a tornado or severe weather is occurring, has been sighted or indicated by National Weather Service radar.

What to Do When A Tornado Threatens

  • If you hear a siren or otherwise know a tornado warning is in effect, immediately take shelter. Do not be tempted to go outside and check conditions for yourself.
  • It is recommended to seek shelter in rooms and corridors in the innermost part of a building at the lowest level. Stay clear of windows, corridors with windows, or large free- standing expanses such as an auditorium or cafeteria. Remember, there is no guaranteed safe place during a tornado. However, it is important to seek shelter in the best location to help minimize your exposure.
  • Consider investing in a weather radio or portable radio and keep it on when severe weather conditions exist. During tornado season, stations will interrupt regular programming to broadcast critical weather information along with instructions to seek shelter.
  • Be mindful of workmates, family or friends who may be hearing impaired and unable to hear an alarm or of those who may not be aware of tornado warnings because they are sleeping, watching a movie, or listening to music.
  • If severe weather threatens, make sure everyone in your area—particularly visitors—know where to go to seek shelter.
  • If you know of others in the building, please inform them if you are aware of severe weather warnings; spread the word.
  • NEVER pull a fire alarm during a tornado warning as people will exit the building and expose themselves to severe weather.
  • DO NOT use elevators during a tornado warning.
  • Persons with mobility concerns should seek shelter in an area suggested above at the time of a tornado watch; do not wait for a tornado warning.
  • Review the tornado section of the UI Critical Incident Management Plan (CIMP) for general information.

Additional Resources

Event Cancellations

To report weather-related event cancellations,