Weather Emergencies: What You Need to Know

For up-to-date information on the status of classes and operations at the main campus of SUNY Plattsburgh, please call:

  • CLASSLINE (students): 518-564-CLAS (2527)
  • SNOWLINE (faculty/staff): 518-564-SNOW (7669)

Decisions to cancel/delay classes at the main campus of SUNY Plattsburgh will be made as early as possible in the day, preferably prior to 6 a.m. or as soon as possible, if affecting afternoon/evening classes.

The campus community is then notified through various means, including:

  • A message will be sent to the campus community via e-mail as an Emergency/Critical Announcement.
  • An announcement will be placed on the homepage www.plattsburgh.edu, under Campus Alerts at my.plattsburgh.edu, and additional information will be posted on www.plattsburgh.edu/emergency.
  • Radio and television will be notified as soon as a decision is made. For more information on the stations notified, go to http://web.plattsburgh.edu/emergency/weatherannouncements.php.
  • In the residence halls, posters will be placed on entry doors announcing the cancellation of classes due to inclement weather.

Types of Weather Emergencies (How to Stay Safe)

Know the Terms

  • Severe Thunderstorm Watch – Tells you when and where severe thunderstorms are likely to occur. Watch the sky and stay tuned to NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards, commercial radio, or television for information.
  • Severe Thunderstorm Warning – Issued when severe weather has been reported by spotters or indicated by radar. Warnings indicate imminent danger to life and property to those in the path of the storm.

Severe Thunderstorm and Lightning

Facts about thunderstorms

  • They may occur singly, in clusters, or in lines.
  • Some of the most severe storms occur when a single thunderstorm affects one location for an extended time.
  • Thunderstorms typically produce heavy rain for a brief period, anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour.
  • Warm, humid conditions are highly favorable for thunderstorms to develop.
  • About 10 percent of thunderstorms are classified as severe—one that produces hail at least three-quarters of an inch in diameter, has winds of 58 miles per hour or higher, or produces a tornado.

Facts about lightning

  • Lightning’s unpredictability increases the risk to individuals and property.
  • Lightning often strikes outside of heavy rain and may occur as far as 10 miles away from any rainfall.
  • “Heat lightning” is actually lightning from a thunderstorm too far away for thunder to be heard. However, the storm may be moving in your direction!
  • Most lightning deaths and injuries occur when people are caught outdoors in the summer months during the afternoon and evening.
  • Lightning-strike victims carry no electrical charge and should be attended to immediately.

Before thunderstorms and lightning

  • Remove dead or rotting trees and branches that could fall and cause injury during a severe thunderstorm.
  • Remember the 30/30 lightning safety rule: Go indoors if, after seeing lightning, you cannot count to 30 before hearing thunder. Stay indoors for 30 minutes after hearing the last clap of thunder.
  • Postpone outdoor activities.
  • Get inside a home, building, or hard top automobile (not a convertible). Although it is possible you might be injured if lightning strikes your car, you are much safer inside a vehicle than outside.
  • Remember, rubber-soled shoes and rubber tires provide NO protection from lightning. However, the steel frame of a hard-topped vehicle provides increased protection if you are not touching metal.
  • Secure outdoor objects that could blow away or cause damage.
  • Shutter windows and secure outside doors. If shutters are not available, close window blinds or curtains.
  • Avoid showering or bathing. Plumbing and bathroom fixtures can conduct electricity.
  • Use a corded telephone only for emergencies. Cordless and cellular telephones are safe to use.
  • Unplug appliances and other electrical items such as computers and turn off air conditioners. Power surges from lightning can cause serious damage.
  • Use your battery-operated NOAA Weather Radio for updates from local officials.

Avoid the following:

  • Natural lightning rods such as a tall, isolated tree in an open area.
  • Hilltops, open fields, the beach, or a boat on the water.
  • Isolated sheds or other small structures in open areas.
  • Anything metal—tractors, farm equipment, motorcycles, golf carts, golf clubs, and bicycles.

During a Thunderstorm

  • If you are in a forest, seek shelter in a low area under a thick growth of small trees.
  • If you are in an open area, go to a low place such as a ravine or valley. Be alert for flash floods.
  • If you are on open water, Get to land and find shelter immediately.
  • If you feel your hair stand on end (which implies that lightning is about to strike), squat low to the ground on the balls of your feet. Place your hands over your ears and your head between your knees. Make yourself the smallest target possible and minimize your contact with the ground. DO NOT lie flat on the ground.

Tornado

Be alert to changing weather conditions. Look for approaching storms. Look for the following danger signs:

  • Dark, often greenish sky and large hail.
  • A large, dark, low-lying cloud (particularly if rotating).
    • Loud roar, similar to a freight train.

If you are indoors:

  • Go to a pre-designated shelter area such as a basement or storm cellar.
  • If there is no basement, go to the center of an interior room on the lowest level (closet, interior hallway) away from corners, windows, doors, and outside walls.
  • Put as many walls as possible between you and the outside.
  • Get under a sturdy table and use your arms to protect your head and neck.
  • Do not open windows.

If you are outdoors:

  • Try to get inside and seek shelter.
  • If you are unable to get inside:
  • Lie flat in a nearby ditch or depression and cover your head with your hands.
  • Be aware of the potential for flooding.
  • Do not get under an overpass or bridge. You are safer in a low, flat location.
  • Watch out for flying debris. Flying debris causes most fatalities and injuries.

Contact Information

For more information, please contact:

Michael Caraballo
Emergency Management Director
Phone: (518) 564-4950
Fax: (518) 564-7986
Email: michael.caraballo@plattsburgh.edu