Story updated: March 25 at 1:55 p.m.
The National Weather Service is predicting a high risk (level 5 out of 5) of tornadoes, damaging winds and hail for the city of Tuscaloosa Thursday.
Prepare for severe weather
Know the difference between a tornado watch and a warning. Tornado watches are issued by the Storm Prediction Center for counties where tornadoes may occur. A watch means conditions are favorable for tornadoes to form in and near the watch area. When a watch is issued, you should review your emergency plans, check your supplies and be ready to move to a safe place.
Tornado warnings are issued by local National Weather Service offices when a tornado has been sighted or is indicated on weather radar. Warnings cover much smaller areas than watches and are drawn as polygons on the map. When a warning is issued there is imminent danger to life and property, and you should immediately take action.
Before storms arrive, familiarize yourself with UA’s severe weather guidelines, make sure you can locate yourself on a map of Alabama, and decide where your safe space will be – whether a shelter or refuge area.
Have multiple ways of receiving weather watches and warnings. This could include a NOAA weather radio, local television and radio stations, and weather apps for your mobile phone.
UA will issue UA Alerts for all tornado watches and warnings. Information about severe weather affecting Tuscaloosa can be found in the UA Safety app, on Twitter by following @UA_Safety and by listening to 92.5 FM UA Info Radio.
Know where to shelter
Sheltering on campus
Should a tornado watch be issued, UA’s sheltering locations will be available for students, faculty and staff until the watch expires. Masks are required in University shelters, and everyone is asked to practice social distancing when possible.
Students and employees who have tested positive for COVID-19 and are in isolation, or those who have been told to quarantine for possible exposure to the virus, are asked to shelter only at the Capstone Parking Deck BARA. To avoid spreading the virus, those who choose to shelter at the Capstone Parking Deck BARA should consider parking inside the deck and remaining in their cars until a tornado warning is issued.
Students and employees are asked not to shelter at the East Campus Storm Shelter at this time, as it is being reserved for residents of Capstone Village who may be more vulnerable to the virus.
Coleman Coliseum has been opened as a shelter. Park in the lot located just to the east of the building behind Sewell-Thomas Stadium, and enter the building through the east concourse doors.
The Magnolia Parking Deck Best Available Refuge Area can accept pets with their owners. Dogs should be in a crate or leashed and muzzled. All other animals must be in a crate. Pet owners are responsible for cleaning up after their pets. Learn more about sheltering with pets on campus.
The explore feature in the UA Safety App can help you locate the nearest storm shelter or BARA.
During a tornado watch or warning, students can use any legal parking in proximity to a shelter or refuge area. When parking decks are filled to capacity, students should park in a surface lot near a shelter or refuge area. View the parking map on the shelters page to see available surface lot parking near shelters and refuge areas.
Do not create a hazard by illegally parking; that will impede others from getting access to parking.
During a severe weather event, parking enforcement staff monitor only for safety violations like blocking a roadway, fire hydrant, access lane or fire lane; as well as parking on the grass, double parking or disability parking. Once the watch has ended, ample time is allowed to return to correct parking zones, if applicable.
If a tornado warning is issued, you should avoid traveling and seek shelter immediately. Classes and events are immediately suspended.
If you are not able to make it to a storm shelter, seek shelter in the closest Best Available Refuge Area location. BARA locations for each building can also be found on the building emergency plan posted near entry/exit locations of each building and within the UA Safety app.
Sheltering off campus
Do not seek shelter in a vehicle or a mobile home. If you live in an apartment building, seek shelter on the lowest level. Do not remain in apartments on upper floors. Tuscaloosa County has public storm shelters in Tuscaloosa and the surrounding areas.
If you are not on campus when a warning is issued, seek shelter on the lowest floor in the center of the building and stay away from windows.
After a storm
University police and staff will quickly respond to any storm damage that may occur on campus. Report any damage that you find to UAPD at 205-348-5454 or by sending a tweet to @UA_Safety.
If you live off campus and experience damage, stay clear of fallen power lines. Do not enter damaged buildings until you are told they are safe by emergency officials. Call 911 if you have an emergency.
Reach out to family members or friends either by text, phone call or through social media to let them know you are safe.
The University of Alabama, part of The University of Alabama System, is the state’s flagship university. UA shapes a better world through its teaching, research and service. With a global reputation for excellence, UA provides an inclusive, forward-thinking environment and nearly 200 degree programs on a beautiful, student-centered campus. A leader in cutting-edge research, UA advances discovery, creative inquiry and knowledge through more than 30 research centers. As the state’s largest higher education institution, UA drives economic growth in Alabama and beyond.