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Tornado Watches and Warnings are issued by the National Weather Service when the probability exists that a significant threat could develop over a wide area. Warnings are issued for much smaller areas and periods of time than Watches.

Tornado Watch means that conditions are favorable for tornadoes to form. Be alert to weather conditions and announcements.

Tornado Warning means that a tornado has been sighted or radar indicates rotation in the clouds. TAKE SHELTER!

At the University, the following systems are used for alerting building occupants of a tornado:

  • Outdoor sirens are operated by Lincoln-Lancaster County Emergency Management
  • University Police will send a UNL Alert when a Tornado Warning is issued by the National Weather Service
  • Warning will be announced by voice amplified systems in buildings
  • UNL Alert modes include: text messages, email, digital signs, Websites, Twitter, Facebook and  computer pop-ups
  • Weather radio and designated staff will also alert building occupants
  • UNL's Tornado Policy

Upon hearing the outdoor warning sirens use the following procedures for employee safety:


University Police will activate UNL Alert when a tornado warning is issued by the National Weather Service. All University personnel are directed to seek shelter indoors (lowest level interior room) upon activation of the warning. It is not safe to leave the shelter until local radio and television stations announce that the warning has expired.



  • Move quickly to lowest level, interior space (hallway, basement, restroom)
  • Get low
  • Cover back of head
  • Monitor news
  • Stay in shelter until warning expires

Individuals with mobility/impairments or physical disabilities:

Prior planning and practice of evacuation routes to tornado shelters is important, particularly for individuals with mobility impairments or physical disabilities.

Supervisory personnel and course instructors are responsible for identifying and escorting individuals with mobility impairments or physical disabilities located in their offices/facilities or classrooms to safety in a tornado shelter in the event of a tornado warning.

The elevators may be used to transport individuals with mobility impairments or physical disabilities and their escorts to tornado shelters. Visually impaired and hearing impaired individuals may be escorted down the stairs to tornado shelters but may require assistance in moving in crowded staircases and in finding the tornado shelter.

In the event of a power failure, individuals who are unable to use the stairs and their escorts should move to an interior location without windows.


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