UW Emergency Management

Winter storm

This page is dedicated to providing you with the resources needed to prepare you and your family for hazardous winter weather.

Resources to help you get ready:


Snow routes

Other resources

UW suspended operations policy

“The President or the President’s designee(s) may declare a temporary suspension of any or all University operations due to an emergency situation that adversely affects University operations, public health, or the well-being and safety of students, faculty, and staff.

Events which might require suspending operations include, but are not limited to: severe weather or natural disaster, spread of a communicable disease, fire or related hazard, an immediate threat to the safety of the campus community, damage to or failure of UW infrastructure, equipment or mechanical systems.”  Click HERE to read the entire policy.

Each of the main campuses (Bothell, Seattle, Tacoma) have also developed, trained and consistently follow their own campus Inclement Weather plans.  These plans, along with related procedures, provide the structure and process by which campus leadership assesses the weather situation, gathers relevant operational status, makes their decision to remain open, delay start times, allow for early release — all the way up to closing the campus…. something that has never been done on the Seattle campus!

Winter storms: respond and recover


Puget Sound can expect a severe winter storm once every 3-4 years. These types of winter storms (ice or wet, heavy and sticky snow) can grind the whole city to a halt, shutting down transportation systems, and placing demands on the power systems. During these types of storms, accidents rise among those who try to drive and can trap people at home or work.

Winter storm watches and warnings

A Winter Storm Watch indicates that severe winter weather may affect your area. A Winter Storm Warning indicates that severe winter weather conditions are definitely on the way or have already begun. A Blizzard Warning means that large amounts of falling or blowing snow and sustained winds of at least 35 miles per hour are expected for several hours.


In a car or truck

  • In extreme cold or in heavy snow, stay with your car until you can be rescued.
  • Run the motor about ten minutes each hour for heat.
  • Open the window a little for fresh air to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Make sure the exhaust pipe is not blocked, which would cause dangerous fumes to backup inside the car.
  • Make yourself visible to rescuers. Tie a bright cloth to your antenna or door to alert rescuers.
  • Turn on your dome light, at night, when running the engine.
  • Raise the hood indicating trouble after snow stops falling.
  • Exercise from time to time by vigorously moving arms, legs, fingers and toes to keep blood circulating and to keep warm.

Additional information

UW Seattle Campus’ current snow removal status

Keeping updated

  • UW Information Line (recorded message) 206-UWS-INFO, Toll Free: 1-866-897-INFO
  • Sign up for UW Alert
  • “Red Alerts” on UW Home page
  • Your supervisor, department/college administrator or building coordinator
  • KOMO 1000 AM (Emergency Alert System)