Message from University Police: Severe Weather Threat for Tuesday, May 4

The University Police Department advises the University community of the threat of severe weather today, Tuesday, May 4.

The National Weather Service has placed Forrest County, including the University’s Hattiesburg campus, in an enhanced risk (3 out of 5) for severe weather on Tuesday, May 4, with impacts expected between the hours of 3 and 8 p.m., but potentially beginning earlier in the afternoon.

The greatest threats of severe weather include golf-ball-sized hail and damaging straight line winds up to 70 mph. The threat of tornadoes cannot be ruled out. The area is also under a limited risk for flash flooding with 1-to-3 inches of rain.

The University anticipates that the Commencement ceremony for undergraduates in the College of Education and Human Sciences will continue as regularly scheduled for 7 p.m. on Tuesday at Reed Green Coliseum. Because the Commencement ceremony may begin during the time of heightened weather concerns, guests are encouraged to arrive early to allow plenty of time for parking and getting into the Coliseum.

The Mississippi Gulf Coast, including the University’s Coastal operations, is also under a severe weather warning, with some portions of the Gulf Coast also under an enhanced risk (3 out of 5). Large hail, up to 1-inch in diameter, and wind gusts up to 60 mph are the main threats. Tornadoes cannot be ruled out.

Should a tornado warning or severe flooding impact USM locations, the Eagle Alert emergency communication system will be activated. Please take a moment to check your contact information in the Eagle Alert system at

MEMA: What to do in Case of a Tornado Warning

In case of a tornado warning, the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) recommends the following actions.

If you are at work:
-Go to the basement or to an inside hallway at the lowest level of the building.
-Avoid places with wide-span roofs, such as auditoriums, cafeterias, large hallways or shopping malls.
-Use your arms to protect your head and neck.

If you are outdoors:
-If possible, get inside a sturdy building with a concrete foundation.
-If shelter is not available, or there is no time to get indoors, lie in a ditch or low-lying area or crouch near a strong building.
-Be aware of the potential for flooding.

If you are in a vehicle:
-Never try to outdrive a tornado in your vehicle. Tornadoes can change direction very quickly and can lift a vehicle and toss it in the air.
-Get out of the vehicle and take shelter in a nearby building.
-If there is no time to get indoors, get out of the vehicle and lie in a ditch or low-lying area away from the vehicle.

If you are in your home:
-Go to the lowest level of the home, an inner hallway, or smaller inner room without windows, such as a closet or bathroom.
-Get away from windows and go to the center of the room. Avoid corners, because they tend to attract debris.
-Get under a sturdy piece of furniture, such as a workbench or heavy table.

Potential Flood Zones on USM Campuses

Local residents and visitors are asked to remain aware that these weather conditions may make some streets on the Hattiesburg campus and coastal sites impassable or hazardous to navigate.

Motorists on the Gulf Park campus in Long Beach should be aware of potential flood damage to parked vehicles at the shared parking lot with St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church on the west side of campus, along Beach Park Place, as well as the four-way stop at Bear Point and Gulf Park drives.

Motorists at the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory in Ocean Springs should be aware of the potential for flooding on Halstead Road near the site’s entrance.

Motorists on the Hattiesburg campus should be aware of potential flood damage to parked vehicles in these areas:

-Pine Haven Drive around Sorority Village
-Montague Boulevard between Kay James Drive and Ross Boulevard
-10 parking spaces on the south end of Fraternity Drive (west side of the street) at Montague Boulevard
-West 4th Street between Golden Eagle Avenue and Eagle Walk
-Southern Miss Drive between 30th and 31st Avenues
-Ray Guy Way at Century Park South/Spirit Park
-South end of Kay James Drive at Montague Boulevard (next to the DuBard School)
-Trent Lott Center west lot, next to M.M. Roberts Stadium
-Ray Guy Way at Eagle Walk, by the raised crosswalk
-Parking area at the southwest corner of McCarty Hall

Motorists should use caution in these areas during times of heavy rain and should not enter flooded areas.

For more information, contact the USM University Police Department at 601.266.4986.

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