Natural Hazards


Definitions below explain the types of weather common in Nebraska during various seasons, as well as the corresponding alerts.

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Spring and Summer Severe Weather|Winter Weather Hazards|Flash Flooding|Earthquakes

Spring and Summer Severe Weather

Severe thunderstorms and tornados typically occur during the spring and summer months in Nebraska. Severe thunderstorms are capable of producing a tornado with high winds and hail.

If there is a severe thunderstorm or tornado in your area, stay inside and away from windows. During a tornado, you should shelter in the basement of your building. If there is no basement, go to an inside room, without windows, on the lowest floor. Areas without windows usually include hallways, bathrooms or closets.
For more information, visit the National Weather Service or the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency.

Notifications you might receive through UNMC Alerts and local news outlets:

Tornado Watch: Watches typically last 4-8 hours and cover a large area (multiple counties). Closely monitor the weather. You do not need to seek shelter at this time, but be prepared to do so quickly if the watch elevates to a warning.
Tornado Warning: Radar has indicated tornadic activity. Seek shelter immediately. Warning sirens will sound to remind you to take shelter and typically last 30 minutes.
Severe Thunderstorm Watch: These watches typically last 4-8 hours. Closely monitor the weather. You do not need to seek shelter at this time, but be prepared to do so quickly if the watch elevates to a warning.
Severe Thunderstorm Warning: This warning is issued  storm radar or a spotter reports a thunderstorm producing hail and/or strong winds. Seek shelter immediately.

Winter Weather Hazards

Winters in Nebraska can be harsh, with blizzards, ice storms, and average highs in the 30s from December through February. The best action to take during severe winter weather is to stay indoors. If you must travel during winter weather, please heed these guidelines on how to stay safe during hazardous winter weather conditions.

UNMC Alerts does not send out notifications for winter weather. However, the National Weather Service issues alerts through local news outlets based on locally determined criteria.

Winter Storm Watch: A winter storm with heavy sleet, snow or ice is possible. Ensure your home and vehicle have preparedness kits, and stay tuned to your local forecast to get the latest information.
Winter Storm Warning: Severe snow, ice or sleet is expected or already occurring. Travel will be difficult and should be delayed, if possible, until conditions improve.
Blizzard Warning: Characterized by high winds and heavy snow fall, blizzards generally produce zero visibility, large snow drifts, and life-threatening wind chills.
Wind-Chill Warning: A wind-chill warning is issued for low temperatures and strong winds that will result in frostbite or hypothermia without proper precautions, such as wearing several warm protective layers or avoiding the outside weather altogether.

Flash Flooding

Flash flooding is one of the deadliest weather-related events in the U.S., with more than 50 percent of fatalities occurring in vehicles. If you are in an area subject to flash flooding, get to higher ground or evacuate the area as soon as possible. It is important to avoid flood waters at all costs. Do not walk or drive a vehicle into flood waters. Water may be deeper than it appears. Turn around, don’t drown.

More information about your area’s flood risk: Nebraska Department of Natural Resources.


Nebraska is considered to have moderate seismicity, with small earthquakes occurring in the state on a regular basis. Although rare, it is possible for Nebraska to experience a damaging earthquake that reaches above 4 or 5 on the Richter scale. During an earthquake:

Drop to your hands and knees wherever you are when you begin to feel shaking. If you are using a wheelchair or any device with wheels, be sure to lock the wheels.
Cover your head and neck with your arms. If a sturdy desk or table is nearby, crawl underneath for shelter. If there is no sturdy shelter, crawl next to an interior wall located as far away from windows as possible. If it is too dangerous to crawl, drop and stay where you are.
Hold on if you are under a sturdy piece of furniture and be ready to move with it.

If you are outdoors, stay outdoors and move away from buildings and/or potential debris. 

If you are in a vehicle, pull over and stop. Set your parking brake.