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Tulane Emergency Terms to Know

Evacuation vs. Shelter-in-Place vs. Lockdown


A decision made by Tulane officials when a threat may extend for several hours to (up to) 3 days. Typically, this decision will require students, faculty, and staff to be prepared to stay indoors and have non-perishable food, bottled water, medical supplies, and other emergency preparedness supplies in the event of a loss of utilities. For example, a winter storm may prompt a shelter-in-place decision. 


An evacuation decision will be made by Tulane officials when a threat is significant and may extend for several days. The affected campus(es) will be closed and all students and non-emergency personnel will be forced to self-evacuate the campus to seek shelter outside of the threat area. For example, a category 5 hurricane may prompt an evacuation.


A lockdown refers to acute incidents where the issue will be resolved in minutes to hours. For example, a tornado or active shooter incident may require sheltering in a safe room in a lockdown incident. 


Potential Advisories from the City of New Orleans

Boil Water Advisory / Boil Water Order

A notification of a Boil Water Advisory will come from the City of New Orleans (Sewerage and Water Board) notifying affected areas that the water is unsafe to consume. These events will last a minimum of 24 hours, or until the all-clear has been given. Tulane will notify students who are in areas affected by a boil water advisory. We recommend preparing for these events by keeping an extra case of bottled water in your residence hall room or off-campus apartment. If you are caught without extra bottled water, water can be brought to a rolling boil for one minute to ensure that all potential pathogens that have been killed.

State of Emergency

A declaration made by local or state government officials when a disaster is imminent.  This allows for the prepositioning of resources, if the need arises. A state of emergency does not mandate a public evacuation.


In the event of an evacuation, the State of Louisiana will make all highway lanes of traffic turn outbound away from the City of New Orleans. In most situations, Tulane will evacuate students before this begins to lessen traffic on the roadways during contraflow. 

Neutral Ground Parking

Vehicles can be parked on low-laying areas in the city. A restriction to neutral ground parking imposed by the City of New Orleans requires vehicles to be moved to higher ground.

Flash Flood

An intense and quick period of extreme rainfall that causes increased flooding. High and quick-moving water resulting from flash flooding can damage property and makes transportation more challenging.

Flash Flood Watch

There is a potential for flash flooding.

Flash Flood Warning

There is currently flash flooding, or it is about to occur.

Coastal Flood Watch

There is a potential for moderate to significant coastal flooding.

Coastal Flood Warning

There is currently moderate to significant coastal flooding, or it is about to occur.

Tornado Watch

There is a potential for a tornado.

Tornado Warning

There is currently a tornado, or it is about to occur.


Terms Used by Weather Partners

(Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration - National Weather Service)


An advisory highlights special weather conditions that are less serious than a warning. They are for events that may cause significant inconvenience, and if caution is not exercised, it could lead to situations that may threaten life and/or property. 


A watch is used when the risk of a hazardous weather or hydrologic event has increased significantly, but its occurrence, location, and/or timing is still uncertain. It is intended to provide enough lead time so that those who need to set their plans in motion can do so. 


A warning is issued when a hazardous weather or hydrologic event is occurring, is imminent, or has a very high probability of occurring. A warning is used for conditions posing a threat to life or property. At Tulane, if a tornado warning is issued, students, faculty, and staff should take immediate precautions to shelter in place until the threat passes.