Resources > Severe Weather Preparedness
Purpose: To provide all personnel with instructions concerning DMS operations in the event that destructive weather threatens SSC and/or the surrounding area.
Discussion: Destructive weather is considered to be tropical in nature. Should tropical weather threaten SSC or the surrounding area, all possible precautions are to be taken to safeguard personnel, equipment and materials. This plan is intended to provide the guidance necessary prior, during and following tropical weather threats that will help DMS personnel accomplish the above objectives while providing for Department needs and ensuring the necessary coordination with other activities and agencies on site. Other forms of destructive weather include severe tornadic breakouts, severe thunderstorm activity, or winter storms with freezing and destructive winds. In these cases as well as other emergencies, communication procedures as outlined below will apply.
When considering whether to evacuate or not, it is worth remembering that tropical weather systems (even depressions) can cause wide-spread destruction and/or flooding. Coastal communities have the greatest vulnerability, but destruction due to wind, rain and flooding can occur at significant distances inland. If you evacuate to a safer location, please be reminded that there is no assurance that you will be able to return to your home for an extended period of time. If you plan to evacuate, earlier is better than later, and you must consider route, traffic, and perhaps even fuel availability.
Lastly, regardless of where you live near the coast, or to where you evacuate, if a major storm threatens you must realize that you and those for whom you are responsible may be without; any assistance, modern conveniences, availability of food, shelter, medical care, money, etc., for an extended period of time. Please keep these considerations in mind as you prepare your personal destructive weather preparedness plan.
Procedures: NASA has overall responsibility for setting necessary conditions of readiness for anticipated tropical weather. NASA has responsibility for closing SSC due to impending weather, recovery operations during and following destructive weather and declaring the site open for normal operations once the weather has passed.
However, the above does not preclude the DMS from taking earlier precautions should this be deemed prudent. Such a decision is the responsibility of the Department Chair or in his/her absence the senior faculty member present. It is important to emphasize that precautions must be undertaken in sufficient time to both provide for an orderly shutdown of the DMS, as well as the dismissal of non-essential personnel with sufficient time to implement their personal destructive weather preparations.
Tropical Condition IV: Check outdoor areas for loose material that could become a missile hazard. DMS facility manager, or staff, should double check emergency generator operational status. When deemed appropriate during Condition IV or Condition III, all personnel will be asked to back up files, move external hard drives to the computer space, cover computers with plastic bags, lift power supplies and other electronics off the floor and cover with plastic bags, and consider moving easily damaged equipment and furniture away from windows. All personnel should review their personal preparedness plan, home preparations and stay alert to potential evacuation recommendations.
Tropical Condition III: NASA will alert Shelter Managers. Take other precautions as necessary. Ensure the DMS emergency generator fuel tank is topped off. Faculty should make preparations to secure important records, data and samples and secure research equipment. All personnel should be listening for announcements concerning recommended, or ordered evacuation from emergency management officials and take appropriate action. Plans for the orderly interruption of on-going laboratory operations should be implemented. Back-up of all essential data/records should be completed. Personal preparations at home should be completed, and personnel must be alert to recommended, or ordered evacuation. Destructive weather is expected within 48 hours.
Tropical Condition II: Take all possible precautions to protect personnel and property. Shelters will be prepared for occupancy. Department vehicles should be filled with fuel and parked. Sensitive equipment will be secured. Move computers from exposed offices to more secure locations away from windows, etc., non-essential personnel are to be dismissed. All personnel should be listening for radio announcements. Mandatory and/or recommended evacuations of surrounding areas are likely and affected personnel should take appropriate action. Destructive weather is expected within 24 hours.
Tropical Condition I: Hurricane Shelters are open. All personnel should have completed, or instituted their own destructive weather plans by this time. Destructive weather is expected within 12 hours.
Post Storm Recovery: Once NASA declares the SSC site open, DMS personnel will report back to work, initiate any necessary corrective actions, and re-establish normal routine operations. Personnel who cannot return in a timely manner are to notify DMS office personnel who will maintain a record of their report and notify the Department Chair. While coordinating with NASA, the Department Chair may ask selected personnel to assist in recovery prior to SSC being opened by NASA. Except for those exceptions requested by the Department Chair, DMS personnel are not to report back to work, unless, the site is officially opened for operations by NASA.
Communications: A list of local radio and tv stations that carry weather information and announcements by NASA SSC officials concerning the conditions at the SSC site is located below. All public service announcements will be made by NASA officials and will not be made by University or DMS personnel. Once opened for operations, faculty and staff should be able to be reached via normal working phone numbers. DMS specific information will be available at 228-688-3177, or 1-800-644-4207.
Important: Any personnel who evacuate the area should leave a forwarding address and contact information with the departmental administrative staff, at extensions 8-7096, 8-7097, 8-3177, or 1-800-644-4207. It will be assumed that personnel that have not provided forwarding information have remained at their listed home address. Therefore, it is very important that you let department administrators know if you are evacuating your home, as failure to do so could potentially result in wasted use of precious emergency response personnel. Further, if your return to SSC is delayed for any reason (flooding, road closures, transportation delays, etc.) you should contact the department as soon as practical.
Personal Preparation Considerations
When destructive weather threatens south Louisiana and coastal Mississippi, SSC employees and families are advised to evacuate to a safe area outside the storm's path. If this is not possible then other options for safe shelter include:
Their local communities if safe shelters exist. Call local Civil Defense, and/or emergency managers to determine the location of approved shelter locations in your area.
AS A LAST RESORT ONLY, SSC employees and their families can shelter at SSC during a hurricane or other storm. However, it must be understood that SSC will not provide long term shelter and pets will not be allowed.
In either the case of evacuation to another area or choosing to go to a shelter, employees should plan to be away from home a minimum of two or three days and will need the following items:
Flashlight with extra batteries, blankets, water (1 gallon per person per day), portable radio/TV with extra batteries, personal toiletries and hygiene items, non-perishable food items, manual can opener, prescription drugs, baby-care items (diapers, formula, etc.), and portable entertainment (book, cards, scrabble, etc.)
Consideration should be given to carrying personal papers of importance, for example, social security cards, birth certificates, passports, insurance papers, bank account information, auto registrations, etc. For DMS personnel, consider carrying your backup computer and research files on a removable storage device.
The following items are not allowed at any shelter: alcohol, non-prescription drugs, weapons, pets, and hazardous materials.
On-site, buildings are opened to the following people in order of priority: Rideout crews (teams of people designated by their employing agencies to stay with their facilities through the storm); SSC employees and their families; general public.
Buildings 1100 and 1002 are the first to be opened as shelters. Other primary shelter facilities are buildings 2102, 2201, 1000 and 1005.
During a storm or other emergency, call 228-688-3777 to get a recorded message about site closings, or try the web at NASA's SSC website.
Pets - If you have a pet(s), your personal destructive weather plan becomes more complex. Few shelters accept pets, and you will be turned away. Many hotels, and motels will not accept pets either. So, if you think evacuation from your home is a possibility, it is recommended that you have several possible destinations identified well a head of time.
Cell Phones – If destructive weather hits, cellular phone service may not be available. Many emergency management plans call for cellular phone service to be dedicated for disaster relief/recovery efforts in the event of major damage. Be aware that normal communications may not be available, and this is likely to include cellular service if a major storm makes landfall.
- Everyone should maintain a hurricane evacuation kit and have a well-defined evacuation plan in the event that we are threatened by tropical weather. NOAA also maintains a website with general information.
- Information about disaster preparedness is available at FEMA.gov.
Local TV/Radio Stations
MPR - Biloxi - 90.3FM
WXGR - Gulfport/Biloxi - 96.7FM
WKNN - Gulfport/Biloxi - 99.1FM
WCPR - Gulfport/Biloxi - 97.9FM
WXLS - Gulfport/Biloxi - 107.1FM
WZKX - Gulfport/Biloxi - 107.9FM
WGCM - Gulfport/Biloxi - 102.3FM
WRJW - Picayune - 1320AM
WXBD - Gulfport/Biloxi - 1490AM
WRPM - Poplarville - 1530AM
WLOX - Gulfport/Biloxi - Ch 13 TV
WZRH - Slidell - 106.1FM
WWL - New Orleans - 870AM /Ch. 4
WDSU - New Orleans - Ch. 6 TV
WVUE - New Orleans - Ch. 8 TV
SSC Site Status
Please note: NASA is the source for information concerning SSC site status. Information about the status of operations at Stennis can be found by calling 228-688-377 or by checking the NASA Stennis Space Center website.