UW Emergency Management

UW Emergency Management (UWEM) is a department of UW Facilities. We provide technical and custom services to the entire institution, including individual and group training, orientations, consultative sessions, seminars and orientation materials as they relate to major campus crises, disasters and major emergency incidents.

With input from our stakeholders, we facilitate the development and implementation of institution-wide, department and individual protection programs and projects that promote disaster resilience, planning, training, mitigation, response, prevention and recovery for all-hazards.

UWEM-2019-Factsheet:  This 2-page fact sheet summarizes our history, department organization, and services we offer to the campus community.

Are you ready for the next big earthquake?

Learn about the earthquake risks in the Pacific Northwest and how to become better prepared.

  • So... How Accurate were the January 2020 Snowstorm Forecasts?

    January 20, 2020

    If you were in Western Washington anytime from January 10-18, 2020 and watched local news, browsed social media or stepped foot in a local grocery, hardware or home improvement store, you likely were exposed to some of the Seattle-area residents' winter weather "hysteria".  Some schools closed entirely for days, some started late (like the UW), buses went on on emergency snow routes, events were postponed, and citizens cleared the shelves of milk, bread, eggs, kitty litter, batteries, rock salt, shovels and generators.  Local media stirred up the frenzy even further with reporters dispatched to all corners of the Puget Sound in search of the first snowlflake.  But while the mountains and passes got pummeled with FEET (not inches) of snow), most of Puget Sound lowlands got anywhere from just a dusting to just a few inches. While most commuters breathes a sigh of relief, other people were confused, frustrated and some even angry that the forecast was wrong ... at least in their minds.  Yes, some communities -- mostly in Skagit and Whatcomb Counties -- did get a true taste of winter, most of us "dodged the bullet."

    So, why were many of the weather forecasts wrong during this period, yet were much more accurate last February when we experienced the last true major series of winter storms?  The simple answer is: ITS COMPLICATED!  Dr. Cliff Mass from the University of Washington provides a comprehensive explanation in his weatherblog as to why the January 10-18 forecasts were both correct, but also missed the mark in some aspects.  After reading his explanation, you will have a much greater appreciation for the challenges that our local meteorologist experts at the National Weather Service Seattle Office  face every day to deliver these forecasts.

  • When the UW "closes" due to Snow, who makes that decision and how do we find out?!

    January 8, 2020

    photo of the main UW entrance roadway covered in snowWell before the first snowflakes begin to fall, UWEM starts fielding this question from students, faculty, staff, parents, media and the general public.  After we remind everyone that the UW NEVER CLOSES (technically, we either "suspend operations", announce a "delayed start/opening," or allow for an "early release"...) , we note that the UW follows a standard plan for making this important decision. This process also includes detailed actions to ensure timely, accurate and updated information to the campus community on any changes to our normal operational status.  The UW's Inclement Weather Plan is the primary document that guides senior leadership in this complex decision-making process.  First developed in 2018 and further refined after the February 2019 Snowmageddon experience, this plan and related procedures, provides us with a consistent process by which the UW assesses current and forecast weather conditions, solicits input from key campus stakeholders, consolidates situational assessment, convenes key leaders for rapid decision-making and finally, getting "the word out" to the public in an efficient and rapid manner.  So how can I be ready this year for any upcoming weather disruptions?  First: if you have not already done so, SIGN-UP for UWAlert notices -- your best and most reliable way to getting up-to-the-minute notices.  Second:  go to our Preparedness website and take steps now to get ready... and Finally: remember to be patient, flexible, helpful to others who may need assistance and, yes, take this as an opportunity to assess personal preparedness at home, school, work and community.

  • Describe Seattle's 2019 Weather in 2 words? NOT NORMAL

    December 11, 2019

    people crossing a city street in the rain with umbrellasIf you were a newcomer to Seattle in 2019 and wondering if the past year was typical for Seattle... the answer would be NO.  In fact, according to experts from the National Weather Service, very little of what we experienced this past year was what some "old-timers" would recognize as normal.  Click HERE to see how our weather over the past 12 months varied significantly from long-time historical averages.  Is this a temporary "blip"... is it a harbinger of things to come???

  • UWEM partnerships in practice

    November 1, 2019

    Generally, you know its not a good day when this group arrives on campus to convene in the UW's Emergency Operations Center, or EOC.  But on November 1st, nearly 20 City of Seattle staff and volunteers were just here for training and a mini exercise.

    Buy WHY were they in the EOC in the first place??  You may ask...  City staff spent 3 hours learning and testing how they would function and  work in our facility (located in the UW Tower complex) because the UW's EOC is designated as the primary alternate - or backup - for their main EOC located in the International District.  Planning for, and regularly-testing an alternate EOC or Command Post, is both recommended and required by various laws, regulations and standards.  Just as the UW's EOC has an alternate location (Madrona Hall), the City needed to identify a number or suitable locations to operate in case their main EOC is damaged, inaccessible or threatened due to an incident, disaster or event that required staff working from an alternate site.

    This concept of sharing space and partnerships in times of crisis continues the longstanding partnership between UWEM and the City of Seattle Office of Emergency Management.  While the City has 3 other alternate EOC sites designated in their plans, the UW's is considered the primary choice due to our 24/7 set-up, availability and vast technical resources at their disposal.

    And what does the UW get from this partnership?  We owe our current EOC capabilities and success in large part to the support we needed - and received - back in 2010 when the UW applied for a federal grant to enhance and grow our new EOC, which was moving from the old Bryant Building to our new location at the UW Tower.  Thanks to the City's proactive endorsement of our grant proposal, we received nearly $350,000 in homeland security grant funds to purchase all new communications and computing equipment, audio-visual systems, furniture and general supplies.  Without their support, our current EOC capabilities would be greatly diminished.

    Thanks to this strong partnership, both the UW and City of Seattle continue to reap the benefits of our shared commitment to disaster resilience for our community.


  • TODAY (10/17) @ 10:17 am: The Great Shake Out earthquake drill

    October 16, 2019

    Where will you be (or were you) TODAY, Thursday, October 17th at 10:17 am?  Hopefully, safety tucked away under a desk or sturdy table, practicing your "DROP, COVER & HOLD ON" skills.  For the 4rd year in a row, on a building-by-building voluntary basis, thousands of UW students, faculty and staff will once again be participating in the nationwide Great Shake Out drill to educate the public on our earthquake threat and provide tools, skills and resources on how everyone (individuals, families, employees, students....) can be prepared for the day when the "BIG ONE" strikes.  As we all know, it is not a matter of IF but WHEN.  For more information on how to not only survive an earthquake, but also detailed preparedness steps you cant take right now, check out the UW's earthquake resources page.  So, join over 65 million other people globally who will be also be getting ready on 10/17/19.  Will you be one of them?!


More posts