Welcome to the Gonzaga Winter Weather Emergency Preparedness page. This page contains general information about severe winter weather. Employees and students should visit the MyGU Winter Weather Preparedness site for more detailed information. If you have questions not addressed on this page, please contact us using the information at the bottom of the page.
Winter weather includes a wide variety of events, including: snow, ice, freezing rain, and extremely cold temperatures. Each of these features can exacerbate existing conditions, and they are all influenced by the time of day and wind. The sun can shine even when there is severe winter weather. It is important to read weather alerts and weather predictions in their entirety. Just looking out the window is not a great way to judge winter conditions.
There are many ways to stay informed about winter weather impacts on campus. Familiarize yourself with them now, so they are easily accessible to you during an emergency. Click on University Operations, below, to learn more about different ways weather impacts the Campus.
The University sends ZagAlert messages on text, telephone, and email to alert the campus of significant weather impacts that affect campus operations. Visit the ZagAlert page for more information.
Emergency Information Website
The Emergency Information Website contains current information about the operational status of the main Campus, and any affected operations or events. Bookmark the Emergency Information Website for easy access. You can also find the link at the bottom of all gonzaga.edu pages.
Emergency Information Telephone Line
Campus conditions and operational impacts are posted on the emergency information recorded line at 509-313-5666.
Local Media Outlets
Gonzaga University distributes delays and closures to local media outlets to include in news updates.
National Weather Service
Don't wait for Gonzaga communications to learn about weather impacts and forecasts. Visit the Spokane National Weather Service website for forecast information and safety tips.
These tips can help you stay safe during winter weather:
- Keep your head up and your hands free when walking on snowy, icy, or wet surfaces
- Wear sturdy, waterproof boots with good traction
- Keep a wind-resistant coat or jacket, hats, scarf, and gloves or mittens available to wear when moving around outside
- Minimize travel outdoors during active winter weather storms
- Follow Plant guidance regarding heating and building temperatures
- Know the signs of cold stress, frostbite, hypothermia, exhaustion, or heart attacks and watch for them in yourself and in others when you’re working or playing outside
- Make sure you have a personal emergency kit and an emergency kit and in your car that is specific to winter weather risks
- Check on one another and those who are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of winter weather such as the elderly, the very young, or those with functional and access needs
- Make a plan to keep pets inside during winter weather
Safe driving in the winter starts before you ever hit the road! BEFORE you leave to drive in winter weather, no matter how short the trip, make sure to:
- Consider winterizing your car to prepare for bad weather. Work with a professional to help you make the right choices for your specific vehicle.
- Check the weather forecast for where you are and where you’re going. Know what might be coming.
- Check the road conditions by calling 311 in Spokane or visiting the local transportation websites for your journey, such as the Washington State Department of Transportation Weather page
- Brush off your car completely. Do not be tempted to skimp on this step – iced over windows or windshields make for dangerous driving conditions. Snow left on the hood or roof of the car can suddenly fall and impair your vision just when you need it most. Icy or snow-covered lights make it hard for you to see and harder for others to see you.
- Make sure you have an emergency kit in your car.
- Tell someone where you’re going, what route you plan to take, and when you plan to arrive.
DURING your trip, make sure to follow these good tips to stay safe in winter weather:
- Avoid risky behaviors, including texting, aggressive driving, talking on the phone, playing with the radio, speeding, tailgating, racing lights, or anything that might distract you from the road and the environment around you.
- Leave extra room between cars and allow more time and space to stop, and practice driving your car on snow and ice so you know how it will handle.
- Know what to do if you are in an accident.
- Keep chains suitable for your make/model of vehicle and tire type in your car, and know how to put them on.
- Don’t crowd the plow, the deicer truck, or anyone else doing maintenance work on roads and sidewalks.
- Be watchful for pedestrians who may slip or fall into roadways unexpectedly.
If you are stranded in your vehicle, these tips can help keep you safe:
- Remain inside your vehicle unless a safe alternate location is immediately visible and accessible. Move anything you might need out of your trunk and into the passenger area.
- Run the heater and engine for about ten minutes every hour. Make sure to keep snow cleared from the exhaust pipe.
- Move around to keep your body heat up, and put on dry clothes. Wrap paper, maps, etc. around the body for insulation. Huddle with other people if you can. Try to stay awake.
- Use your phone to call for help. Try texting if you can’t make a call connect.
- Drink fluids and avoid dehydration.
- Make your car visible to rescuers. Tie bright cloths to the antenna, raise the hood (if the snow has stopped), and turn on inside lights at dusk or overnight with the engine running.
- If you’re in a remote area, stomp out SOS or “HELP” in the snow
Vehicle Emergency Kit
Packing a car emergency kit is a crucial part of winter weather preparedness. This list contains suggestions for a vehicle emergency kit, but you should always tailor your kit to meet your specific needs and lifestyle. Visit the Ready.gov website or talk to your automobile insurance provider for more emergency kit suggestions.
- Warm, dry change of clothing for everyone in the car
- Winter clothing including gloves, hats, and jackets
- Extra blankets
- Snacks and bottled water
- First aid kit
- Small shovel and grit such as cat litter or sand
- Hand-powered radio and charging device for a cellphone
- Jumper cables
- Chains for tires
- Flashlight and extra batteries (or hand powered)
Extremely cold temperatures are just one kind of severe winter weather. Extreme cold can happen during storms or when the sun is shining, and the temperature conditions are affected by how windy it is, so just looking out the window is not a good indicator of temperature! Here are some tips to protect yourself during very cold temperatures:
- Before you go outside, verify the temperature and wind-chill with a reliable source.
- Before the cold weather hits, take time to check your emergency kit at home, at work, and in your car.
- Dress in layers so you can easily adjust between the cold outdoors and warmer indoor environments.
- Wear a wind-resistant top layer, a hat that pulls snugly over your head, gloves, boots, and pants. Consider wrapping a scarf loosely around your nose and mouth. This is just as true for a long trek across the neighborhood as it is for a short trip between buildings or from a car into a building.
- Consider moving outdoor activities inside. If you cannot move inside, please limit how long you are outdoors and dress appropriately. Take frequent indoor breaks.
- Stay dry. If you get wet, or if your clothing is damp from sweat, go inside to dry off and change into warm, dry clothing right away.
- Learn how to prevent and detect cold stress, hypothermia and frostbite and seek treatment if you start to experience symptoms.
- Keep your thermostats set at an appropriate temperatures and leave cabinet doors over pipes open for airflow until temperatures warm up. If you are leaving town, let the water drip slowly from taps to prevent freezing.
The following resources were used in building this page, and may provide additional helpful information to you!
- CDC Winter Weather
- City of Spokane Snow Removal
- Nationwide Insurance
- National Weather Service
- National Weather Service Wind Chill Chart
- National Weather Service Winter Safety
- NWS Forecast Office for Spokane
- Ready.gov Winter Weather page
- Washington State Department of Transportation