March 3, 2018

Despite Less Snow Than Predicted, Students Take to the Slope to Celebrate Day Off

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Almost a year after a winter storm closed Cornell’s campus for its first full snow day since 1993, the University cancelled all classes on Friday in anticipation of another storm.

Compared to last year’s storm, which left Cornell buried under 12 inches of snow, Friday’s winter storm brought only four inches of snow, as per preliminary reports on the NOAA website. While this left several students underwhelmed, they were glad for the day off.

“I’ve walked to classes in this kind of weather, but I’d obviously take a snow day over that if I can,” said Arianne Seenauth ’21.

The National Weather Service predicted about six inches of snow for the Ithaca area and, from 9 p.m. on Thursday to 1 a.m. on Saturday, issued a winter storm warning. The service also said there was a 10 percent chance that Ithaca will receive 16 inches of snow by Saturday morning.

Marc Alessi ’18, co-president of the Cornell chapter of the American Meteorological Society, explained in an interview with The Sun why Friday’s snowstorm was not of the intensity that had been predicted.

“The snowfall an area experiences is dependent on its elevation, when the temperature is close to 32 degrees. Ithaca is at a low elevation so we got lucky — there’s a place just to our west near Seneca lake which is on a higher elevation  that is reporting 16 inches of snow,” Alessi said.

Alessi described other factors too, such as the warmer south wind that Ithaca was exposed to and the fact that the low-pressure in Ohio that was supposed to bring Ithaca the bulk of the snow dissipated quickly.

“All the models were saying that there would be a lot of snow on Friday, with the heaviest snow coming in the morning. But it’s very hard to forecast accurately for locations influenced by differing microclimates,” Alessi said.

The Ithaca campus will reopen at 5 a.m. on Saturday morning, according to a post on the University’s emergency website.

During the storm, Cornell’s dining services were placed on “limited eatery hours,” with a select few dining halls open for breakfast and lunch service. After evaluating the number of available staff, the University opened several North and West campus eateries for dinner at their regular times.

All TCAT routes operated on their regular weekday schedule, but “frequent Cornell routes” like the 10 and 82 were “slightly reduced” due to the large amount of closures, according to a press release.

Friday’s closure marks only the third time in a quarter of a century that Cornell’s Ithaca campus has declared a full snow day. Last year, the campus closed its doors for a full 28 hours beginning on March 14 at noon. Exactly 24 years earlier, on that date in 1993, the Ithaca region had received over 30 inches of snow in the “storm of the century,” also forcing a shutdown, as reported by The Sun.

Throughout the day, students flocked to Libe slope to sled down the hill during the snowstorm — an item ranked fifth on the list of 161 Things Every Cornellian Should Do. From pizza boxes to professional sleds, they made use of what they had to partake in the snowy revelry.

Kevin Ngo ’21 told The Sun that since his normally-scheduled snowboarding class had been cancelled, he came to the slope to snowboard instead.

Some students had to finish their work before hitting the hill to celebrate the rare campus weather closure.

Will Smith ’21, who played a game of frisbee on the slope, said his Spanish 2090 course still held its prelim during class time, but that he was able to take the exam from his dorm. His classmate, Eshan Mehrotra ’21, said the experience was not so bad.

“It was kind of nice — we ate cereal, did it around a little table,” he told The Sun. “It was just cute.”

Lucy Ding ’21, who went sledding on the slope in the early evening, said she had to spend the entire morning doing her homework in the architecture studio before she could have fun.

“Man, architects never rest, even on a snow day,” she laughed.

With the fun and revelry that usually comes with snow days, there is also plenty of trash littered on the slope. Cardboard boxes are often used by those who do not have professional sleds and more often than not they get left behind. Dora Penavic ’18 and Evlyn Samuel ’18 decided to change that this year.

“We had come to sled and when we were walking back we were quite appalled. Usually you walk by and just do nothing. We were hoping that once people see some people picking up the boxes — they would feel like they should too,” Penavic said.