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Emergency Plan for Nelson Poynter Memorial Library

Severe Thunderstorms

Severe Thunderstorms

The National Weather Service defines a severe thunderstorm as a storm with winds of 58 mph or higher and/or hail of one (1) inch in diameter or larger.

A Significant Weather Advisory is issued for thunderstorms that are not at severe stage, but could cause some damage.

A Severe Thunderstorm Watch means conditions are suitable for the formation of severe thunderstorms, even if no thunderstorm are happening at that time.


  1. Continue to monitor local weather conditions via the National Weather service, local news stations, or online resources.
  2. Be prepared to take cover if conditions worsen.

A Severe Thunderstorm Warning is issued when a severe thunderstorm has developed in the area. This will be reported on the NWS Weather radio system as well as by local news stations.


If a Severe Thunderstorm Warning is issued:

  1. Stay Indoors! Encourage patrons to stay indoors until the storm passes.
  2. If conditions worsen encourage people to move away from windows.

Monitor Mobull, the weather radio, or a local news station to keep abreast of weather conditions. Severe thunderstorms can be a breeding ground for other dangerous conditions such as tornadoes and straight line winds (derechos).



Tornadoes are "violently rotating columns of air." They frequently appear as funnel clouds stretching from the clouds to the ground, but often the funnel can be hidden by rain or debris. Waterspouts are tornadoes occurring over water, but they can come ashore and cause damage.

A Tornado Watch is issued when conditions are favorable for the formation of tornadoes. Tornado watches can be issued even if there is no severe weather in the area.


  1. Continue to monitor weather broadcasts and stay alert to changing weather conditions.

A Tornado Warning is issued when tornadoes have been reported in the area - either by radar indications or actual sightings by weather watchers.


  1. Seek cover. Encourage patrons to take shelter in the first floor rest rooms and the first floor supply room. If there is not time to get to the first floor, take cover in the restrooms on any floor.
  2. Close the restroom area fire doors to restrict debris if the tornado should cause damage.
  3. Stay under cover until the all clear is given.
  4. Report any injuries or damage to University Police at 873­-4140 or 873-4444.

Tropical Storms/Hurricanes

Tropical Storms/Hurricanes

Tropical Storms are tropical cyclones with sustained air speeds from 39 to 73mph. Torrential rains can frequently accompany tropical storms. Hurricanes are large, violent storms which contain sustained winds of 74 mph or higher. Usually a tropical storm watch and warning will precede a hurricane watch and warning.

Generally you will have several days' notice to prepare for a tropical storms and hurricanes. If a hurricane were to hit St. Petersburg, it is almost certain the campus will be evacuated until the storm passes and damage is assessed. Therefore you must prepare as much as possible before evacuation.

These actions should only be considered guidelines. During a weather event the university will probably be issuing instructions on what departments should do to prepare.

A HURRICANE WATCH is issued when hurricane conditions are possible within the next 48 hours in the watch area.


  1. Library employees back up work­related files to network storage (Box). Additionally save any personal information to USB/removable media that can be moved to an alternate location.
  2. Clean off tables and desktops to lessen the likelihood of items becoming missiles in high winds.
  3. Move physical files and office materials to the OLITS studio to help protect them from winds and water. Cover Administration file cabinets on the third floor in plastic in case of roof leaks.
  4. Cover rare and valuable material in special collections in plastic or prepare them to be moved to the OLITS Studio.

A HURRICANE WARNING is issued 36 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical storm force winds (39 to 73 mph). The warning indicates hurricane conditions are expected somewhere in the coverage area. Although winds can cause major damage, the library must be prepared to deal with storm surge as water may be pushed over the sea wall.


When a hurricane warning is issued:

  1. Move all AV equipment (when possible) to the OLITS Studio.
  2. Move critical network and server equipment to 2nd floor datacom closet.
  3. Systems will move a full set of all critical data offsite during emergencies.
  4. Upon notification of campus closure, all non-web related servers will be powered down.
  5. Classroom projectors and other equipment should be disconnected in case of power surges.
  6. Satellite dish should be tied down to minimize damage.
  7. Move critical paper files to the OLITS Studio.
  8. Outdoor furniture will be moved into the atrium to protect it from wind.


Evacuation and Campus Re­opening:

All Library personnel must evacuate as instructed. Official announcements regarding closing of the campus or authorizing return to the campus will ONLY be broadcast on WUSF radio/TV, posted on the university web site, or by telephone, 727­873-­4873.

In the event of a major hurricane, it may not be possible to reopen the campus for several weeks. After Hurricane Katrina, many university campuses in New Orleans were closed for 6 months to a year.  In the event of that happening in St. Petersburg, the library should makes plans for providing as many services as possible until students can return to campus.

Services may be provided by moving as much as possible to a satellite location or by using e-resources when Internet/wireless services are restored.

1. Although the physical collection may not be available, students should still have access to the digital materials, including the catalog, e-books, e-journals, Libguides, etc. These are all stored or backed up on servers located in other locations.  The library web presence is co-located in Tampa to provide a base for an online presence for the NPML.

2. Research services will be provided through the use of Chat Reference.