February 14, 2007

University Cancels Classes Due to Snow

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Cornell has canceled today’s classes due to a snow emergency, starting at 12:05 p.m. until 5 a.m. tomorrow morning, University officials said. The University will reassess the situation tomorrow as the weather continues to changes.

TCAT will continue to run buses on their regular schedule this afternoon and evening, unless the local goverments or police declare the roads closed. TCAT advised in a press release that riders should be at their bus stops by 12:45 p.m.; additional buses may be added to routes. The campus parking lot shuttles (Routes 81, 82 and 83) will stop running at 3 p.m.

Ithaca Mayor Declares Snow Emergency

As a midwestern storm system barreled down to dump an anticipated two feet of snow on Central New York yesterday afternoon, Ithaca’s mayor declared a snow emergency, TCAT vowed its buses would run throughout the storm and Cornell officials and grounds crews prepared for massive cleanup operations.

The National Weather Service said travel would be “nearly impossible” into this evening.

City of Ithaca Mayor Carolyn Peterson declared a snow emergency effective 5:00 p.m. yesterday and stated in a press release that the emergency would remain in effect until further notice. Peterson activated the city’s snow emergency routes and declared it illegal to park or stand on a raft of streets including State Street and College Avenue.

“It’s one of the biggest storms that we’ve seen in Ithaca,” said Keith Eggleston, the regional climatologist at the Northeast Regional Climate Center at Cornell. “If it produces two to three feet of snow, that’s quite enough to shut down a lot of things around Central New York for a few days,” he said. But to shut down the University, Eggleston said, the storm would have had to produce the majority of the snowfall by early this morning.

“By first thing tomorrow morning, the storm’s only going to be halfway through its life cycle,” Eggleston said yesterday, giving snowplow teams time to react.

Schwartz said Cornell was prepared for the storm.

“We have a general plan for heavy snow removal. We have people on duty all night in the grounds department,” he said. “Once there’s enough snow to plow, they start plowing. In the morning, we start attacking the sidewalks.”

Schwartz said the University hires a subcontractor to plow the parking lots; city workers plow roads owned by the city.

“Everything that is done depends on the timing of the snow and how long it lasts,” he said.

Last night, students prepared for the brunt of the storm.

“I’m very excited, and I hope it turns into a snow day so we can all sleep in and not go to school,” said Stephanie Thornton ’09, who is from Los Angeles.

“I’ve got my long-johns, hat, gloves and scarf,” she said. “I’m ready.”
Thornton said she did not regret her decision to leave the confines of sunny California.

“I personally came to Cornell to try something new — even though the cold is frightening and uncomfortable, the snow is enticing and exciting and different and fluffy,” she said.

The storm was only about halfway through its life cycle as classes started today, with precipitation slated to continue through this evening. If conditions are just right, sleet will turn to snow and even more snow will accumulate on the ground. The storm caused blizzard conditions in the midwest when the northern and southern jet streams collided, creating a surface convergence. According to the NWS, snow will continue through today and taper off to snow showers this evening. The NWS, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, instituted a heavy snow warning which will remain in effect until 7 p.m. today. The NWS reported that northwest winds will increase to as fast as 25 miles per hour this afternoon, causing drifts and blizzard conditions. The service also cited a potential for downed trees and hazardous road conditions.

Sun Staff Meteorologist Shaun Walter and Sun Staff Writer Molly O’Toole contributed reporting to this article. .