Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs / Sun City Editor

Thousands of students evacuated the slope after Cornell issued an emergency alert on Slope Day.

May 10, 2018

‘Severe Weather’ Abruptly Halts Cornell University Slope Day

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Lightning and thunder brought an abrupt end to Cornell University’s 2018 Slope Day on Thursday, as warning sirens blared at the end of the headliner’s set and the University evacuated thousands of students from Libe Slope.

Just before 2:30 p.m., with Galantis’ headlining set in full swing, warning sirens began blaring on the Ithaca campus, and Cornell issued an emergency alert urging students to “evacuate Libe Slope” due to “severe weather with lightning.”

“TAKE INDOOR SHELTER!” the alert said as rain began pouring on thousands of students in tie-dye and other tank tops.

The warning sirens and alerts to students’ phones brought a swift end to Cornell’s annual end-of-year concert as Galantis ended its set while thunder and lightning were heard and seen from the Cornell slope.

Cornell issued another alert indicating that there were 9 “designated shelter locations,” and thousands of soaked students raced up the steep hill toward drier land.

“This sucks,” one Cornell police officer said at the top of the slope as he ushered students out one of several exits.

Students along College Avenue seek shelter after Cornell abruptly halted Slope Day due to "severe weather."

Michael Suguitan / Sun Senior Photographer

Students along College Avenue seek shelter after Cornell abruptly halted Slope Day due to “severe weather.”

Cornell Slope Day staff had already planned to close beer tents earlier than usual because of the weather forecast. Earlier in the day, the National Weather Service in Binghamton had warned that “a marginal risk for severe thunderstorms exists this afternoon” in Tompkins County and that “a few storms could become strong enough to produce damaging winds.”

Shortly before 3:30 p.m., Cornell said that the situation was “ALL CLEAR” and that “Slope Day festivities will not be restarted.”

Students sought cover in the designated shelter locations and under scaffolding on the Arts Quad as Slope Day staff urged people to find a safe way home. The rain had largely subsided by about 3:10 p.m.