The University of Iowa

Update: Severe Weather Awareness Week and Hawk Alert Test

Update: Due to current weather conditions, the Johnson County outdoor siren and UI Hawk Alert test has been postponed to Thursday, March 24, at 10 a.m. The Hawk Alert test will proceed on Thursday as long as there is no other actual emergency. However, the sirens may or may not be tested depending on weather conditions and a final determination from Johnson County Emergency Management.

As we enter severe weather season and recognize Severe Weather Awareness Week (March 21-25), it is important for those on campus to get re-acquainted with the University of Iowa's emergency notification systems, how to properly prepare for severe weather, and where to find additional information.

As part of this effort, the UI Department of Public Safety (DPS) will test the Hawk Alert system at approximately 10 a.m. on Wednesday, March 23 in conjunction with the National Weather Service (NWS) and Johnson County severe weather emergency notification drills.

The sirens will be activated, and registered users will receive test Hawk Alert messages. This process helps confirm that you are able to receive timely emergency notifications. Before the test, please take a moment to update your Hawk Alert preferences and make sure you are signed up to receive text messages, which are the quickest method. To update your settings and see FAQs, visit:

Although the drill does not include the practice of seeking shelter, some facilities may opt to do a shelter drill. Regardless, you are strongly encouraged to pause and consider what actions you would take, including where you would go, if it were an actual tornado or severe weather warning. 

If you hear a siren or receive other alerts during an actual incident or otherwise know of the threat of dangerous wind-related conditions, consider the following actions, which are recommended by the NWS:

  • Inside: Go to the basement or a safe room and assume a tornado safety position. If you don't have either, proceed to the lowest innermost room away from windows. Do not go to large open rooms such as cafeterias, gymnasiums, or auditoriums.
  • Outside: Seek shelter inside a sturdy building immediately.
  • In a vehicle: Being in a vehicle during a tornado is not safe. The best course of action is to drive to the closest shelter. If you are unable to make it to a safe shelter, either get down in your car and cover your head, or abandon your car and seek shelter in a low lying area such as a ditch or ravine.
  • Stay weather-ready: Continue to monitor local news or a NOAA Weather Radio to stay updated about watches and warnings.

Additional items to keep in mind:

  • Emergency information is posted to the UI's emergency website,, following a Hawk Alert. Please refer to this page during active Hawk Alerts for the most updated information.
  • The outdoor warning (siren) system is designed to notify those who are outdoors of the emergency condition. When indoors, the best way to receive severe weather notifications is through a NOAA weather radio.
  • Be mindful of persons who are deaf or hard of hearing, or of those who may not be aware of emergency notifications because they are sleeping, watching TV, or listening to music.
  • If you know of others in the building, please inform them of emergency conditions as you make your way to safety. If you can do so safely, help those who may need assistance to a safe area.

Additional sources of information pertaining to severe weather can be found at:

If severe weather is forecast for the area on the day of the scheduled siren activation, or if there is another active emergency, UI will coordinate with Johnson County Emergency Management and NWS to either postpone or cancel the sirens sounding and Hawk Alert test.

For more information on how to respond to various types of emergencies that could affect the university, see the Emergency Response Guide on the UI Department of Public Safety website.