By Dan Martin, Chattanooga, TN–University officials say they have plans for every inclement weather situation that could arise in the following months.
University officials watch the weather 24 hours a day and track storms that are days away from hitting Chattanooga and the surrounding area, Tim Pridemore, the University’s emergency management specialist, said.
“We are in communication with the National Weather Service anytime there is anything significant that is going to affect our area,” Pridemore said. “We get a web briefing that we and other emergency managers around the state of Tennessee and even up into Virginia participate in.”
The decision to close campus is not one made quickly or taken lightly, Pridemore said.
The University uses an emergency assessment team to monitor, track and make decisions regarding inclement weather, he said.
“As the system moves in… their responsibility is not only to monitor the conditions on campus, but the commuting area around campus as well,” he said.
John Hill, a junior from Spring Hill, Tenn., said the weather has impacted whether or not he can get to classes on campus in the past years.
“I lived off Signal Mountain last year and really had to take the weather into consideration when driving to class,” Hill said. “Luckily it was not a bad winter like the 2010-2011 school year.
Hill said he was happy to hear that UTC officials take into consideration surrounding areas for students that cannot make it to the University due to poor weather conditions.
“I’m really glad UTC considers the surrounding area when bad weather is coming,” Hill said. “With so many hills and mountains, the smallest bit of ice can really make it hard to get to class.”
Students and faculty have resources available both online and through a text message system that sends alerts about school closings, building closings and safety precautions during inclement weather, Pridemore said.
James McLeod, a sophmore from Brentwood, Tenn., said he has signed up for these cautionary messages to make sure he is up to date on the latest information.
“I signed up for a text message that tells me when campus is closed. It makes it so much easier ,especially living off campus when I have to drive to school everyday,” Mcleod said.
He said it is much simpler to receive texts than to check emails frequently to avoid missing something important.
“UTC ALERT will be used on a very limited basis—only when an immediate threat exists. These might include a shooting on campus, a severe weather threat or a chemical spill,” according to the website.
Students can sign up for UTC ALERT online through the University’s website.
Pridemore said the University also uses their Facebook and Twitter pages to alert students when weather will be affecting the regular school schedule.