Tropical depressions, tropical storms, and hurricanes form over water and move toward land. Threats from hurricanes often include high winds, heavy rainfall, storm surge, coastal and inland flooding, rip currents, and tornadoes. Hurricanes are natural for coastal areas. The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30.
The trusted source for hurricane forecasting is the National Hurricane Center (NHC). Information is updated frequently at www.nhc.noaa.gov. Use caution before reacting to information from other sources.
The NHC Track Forecast Cone represents the probable track of the center of a tropical cyclone. These five-day track forecasts may change rapidly. Typically, the cone becomes wider in the 3–5 day range because of long-range forecast uncertainty. Winds may extend further than the forecast cone and are stronger in the northeast quadrant of Gulf of Mexico storms. For this reason, it is calmer on the west side of a storm track than on the east side.
As a StormReady institution, PCC maintains a high level of preparedness, ready for any severe natural event. The StormReady program empowers communities to approach hazardous weather situations proactively and allows PCC to plan and communicate effectively before, during, and after storms. But being StormReady is more than a certification: it’s PCC’s dedication to protecting and preserving lives in the face of severe weather.
To become StormReady, PCC met rigorous criteria set by the National Weather Service (NWS) and underwent a comprehensive inspection of our systems by NWS meteorologists. Criteria included:
PCC is recognized by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as a Weather-Ready Nation (WRN) Ambassador. This program formally recognizes communities striving to improve our nation’s readiness, responsiveness, and resilience against extreme weather, water, and climate events.
As a WRN Ambassador, PCC is committed to collaborating with NOAA and other Ambassadors to unify efforts across government, non-profits, academia, and private industry, making the nation more ready, responsive, and resilient against extreme environmental hazards.
Sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph or higher are expected in 36 hours or less.
PCC will monitor the forecast and heed advice from the Escambia County Emergency Operations Center.
Sustained winds of 74 mph or higher pose a possible threat to the area within 48 hours.
Campus remains open and will continue to function normally until further notice. PCC will monitor the forecast and heed advice from the Escambia County Emergency Operations Center.
Sustained winds of 74 mph or higher are expected in the area in 36 hours or less.
A warning can be in effect when dangerously high water/waves are a risk for coastal areas, even if winds are expected to be less than hurricane force. PCC will continue to monitor the forecast track and attend briefings with the Escambia County Emergency Operations Center, as well as consider sheltering needs and college schedules adjustments.
The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale is a 1 to 5 rating based on a hurricane’s sustained wind speed. Category 3 and higher are considered major hurricanes.
157 mph or higher
A State of Emergency is declared long before arrival of a potential storm to enable state, county, and local agencies to access funding necessary to begin preparations and open emergency operations centers. This declaration should not be misunderstood as current danger.
Pensacola is located in the northwestern panhandle of Florida. We are over 500 miles from Miami, over 300 miles from the Atlantic Ocean, and protected by barrier islands along the Gulf of Mexico.
PCC is not in a hurricane evacuation zone. Because campus is 100 feet above sea level and several miles from the Gulf, we are not subject to storm surge or coastal flooding.
Classes will only be canceled when necessary for safety or preparation of shelter facilities to avoid the potential inconvenience of a school year extension. Outdoor sports and off-campus activities may be canceled even if other scheduled events continue without interruption.
PCC will close when needed to prepare for sheltering students, faculty, and staff and will determine when to resume after post-storm assessments are complete. Our closure timing will not necessarily coincide with the closures of local schools.
Should there be a need to cancel classes or other activities, posted resources and announcements will inform of services and facilities access.
When hurricane conditions are expected to affect the Pensacola area, a decision may be made to shelter residence hall students at designated locations on campus. PCC buildings have been evaluated by structural engineers for safety so that well-informed decisions are made.
Flexible plans for sheltering are based on the severity of the storm. Residence halls are used for sheltering during minimal and moderate strength hurricanes. If an approaching hurricane is expected to be Category 3 or higher at landfall, residence hall students shelter in the Sports Center and Crowne Centre before weather becomes severe. Town students, PCC faculty/staff, and their families are sheltered in another campus location.
Caring staff supervise each shelter location, keep in contact with the campus Emergency Operations Center, and submit regular reports.
Maintenance personnel are on duty in every occupied building during a hurricane to quickly handle issues. PCC’s assessment team inspects the campus immediately after the storm for safety issues before sheltering ends.
PCC provides food and water for residence hall students at shelter locations. Hot meal schedules usually resume once students are safe to leave shelters.
If the power grid goes down, generators on campus can provide electricity for all buildings, including air conditioning for residence halls, dining areas, and classrooms.
If local utility water is not reliable, running water may be provided from an underground well system for bathing and cleaning. Dining Service facilities may be supplied with filtered water for cooking and drinking.
It has never been necessary to close and evacuate PCC during a hurricane. While it is understandable that students and parents may be concerned about impacts from a major storm, PCC’s location, facilities, and services make it an ideal shelter for students, faculty, and staff.
Students who voluntarily evacuate are responsible to follow all normal overnight pass and class cut procedures, assume full responsibility for their safety, and depart before winds reach tropical storm strength.
PCC Website/Eagle’s Nest
The Emergency Operations page will list any approaching storms currently being monitored.
Announcements will be posted on the PCC website and Eagle’s Nest regarding tropical storm or hurricane response if the approaching storm presents an imminent threat to Pensacola that is likely to disrupt normal campus operations.
College webcams provide views of campus and are a source for current monitoring of campus conditions at www.pcci.edu/media/webcams/.
Time-sensitive information requiring immediate action is delivered through critical alerts to student and employee emails and subscribed cell phones. Public address systems and Campus Connection monitors throughout campus may also communicate critical alerts.
PCC has a comprehensive emergency management plan and response that is ready to be implemented quickly for a hurricane. We are proactive in storm planning and review our plans annually. Emergency operations team members and Incident Action Plans represent all departments on campus that serve students and are committed to providing for their comfort, safety, and care.
Pensacola Christian College works closely with Escambia County. When the County’s Emergency Operations Center activates for an approaching storm, PCC has an Emergency Operations representative on site, providing fast access to information.
The campus Emergency Operations Center is staffed by trained personnel 24 hours a day prior to, during, and after a storm.