Cameron Pollack / Sun File Photo

A heavy snow hit Ithaca on February 11, 2018, but the University remained open on that day.

January 18, 2019

Traveling to Cornell in a Winter Storm: All You Need to Know

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Cornellians’ winter break may be ending, but Ithaca winter certainly is not —  a massive winter storm looms over the Northeast, threatening travel plans for students returning to campus from across the world. The Sun has aggregated all the information you may need to get to campus, one way or another.

The Storm

On Friday, the National Weather Service issued a Winter Storm Warning for Tompkins County from noon on Saturday to 4 P.M. on Sunday. The Service predicts 12 to 20 inches of snowfall and wind speeds up to 35 mph during that time, with the heaviest snowfall overnight from Saturday evening to Sunday morning.

“The storm is tapping into a pool of cold air which has dipped southward from Canada,” explained Cody Knight ’19, co-president of Cornell Meteorology Club. “This will limit the precipitation type to snow in Ithaca, but areas to the south – including NYC and parts of the Mid-Atlantic – will see freezing rain mixed in.”

Knight urged those in the area to “exercise caution when walking outdoors and avoid driving during the peak of the storm.”

Ryan Lombardi, vice president of student life, sent an email to students and parents on Friday urging those in transit to Ithaca to travel prior to 2 P.M. on Saturday.

Bus Routes

Governor Andrew Cuomo has banned buses from most interstate highways and thruways from Saturday at 3 p.m. to the end of the storm. However, several bus services are ending their weekend services earlier than that.

Coach USA Shortline has canceled all weekend Ithaca-bound bus routes departing New York City after Saturday at 10:15 a.m. Passengers who booked Sunday Ithaca Premium buses have the option to use their tickets to ride a 11 a.m. Monday bus (click here for up-to-date info).

Cornell’s Campus-to-Campus bus service has also canceled all routes scheduled on Saturday afternoon or Sunday. There are more than 10 seats available in buses departing Sunday morning as of this article’s publication (click here to reserve a seat.)

A representative for Big Red Bullet told The Sun that they are not running any routes this weekend.

The TCAT bus system, which operates a line connecting the Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport and Cornell’s campus, are making efforts to maintain normal service, their website states.

Air Travel

Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport will likely stay open throughout the storm, Director Michael Hall told The Sun, though inclement weather may still affect other airports and cause delays and cancellations. Hall urged passengers to check with their airlines about the current status of their trips.

“[Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport] itself has not been closed in almost four years,” Hall said. “But obviously we’ve had numbers of flights canceled during the same period of time, and it has to do with airplanes getting scattered about and delayed and hence not being able to complete their schedule commitment.”

Some major airlines are waiving flight-change fees for passengers whose travel is affected by the inclement weather, according to CNBC.

Air travelers may also be impacted by the U.S. government shutdown, Hall said, as Transportation Security Administration employees — especially those in large hub airports — must decide whether “they really want to go to work in a storm and not get paid.”

However, Hall said that he did not expect any disruptions in TSA services at Ithaca Tompkins.

“Being smaller, it’s more personal. We made arrangements to try and support [TSA workers] throughout this unfortunate shutdown,” he said.

The University’s Response

Lombardi’s email stated that University expects to resume instruction for the spring semester on Tuesday as planned, but urged students to prioritize their safety even if it results in delays.

All University dining halls and eateries will close by 7 P.M. on Saturday, though the University’s dining website lists regular hours for Sunday.