MU Police Department released an alert Thursday at 1:15 p.m. announcing the closure of the university due to severe weather. All classes, exams and events were cancelled.
Critical personnel will still be operating what MUPD called continuous operations throughout the day. The university’s hospitals, clinics and emergency rooms are also remaining open.
"Despite the slippery streets, there have not been any reported accidents since midnight on Thursday," Brian Weimer, MUPD spokesman, said around 3 p.m. Thursday.
Road surfaces have dropped below freezing temperatures and are being treated with a chemical to melt the snow as it falls. The effort is being monitored by the Columbia Public Works crews.
"The university police patrol cars have not been affected by the snowstorm," Weimer said. "(The patrol cars) have all wheel drive."
The Columbia Police Department also works a little differently during severe weather.
"We change things up a bit," CPD spokesman Joe Bernhard said.
CPD officers often ride two to a car in extreme weather situations.
"Since it is difficult to get around quickly in a police car, the two man cars ensure the officers have back-up when they need it." Bernhard said. "We use our regular police vehicles but put chains on the tires to help with traction."
CPD also has a few four-wheel drive vehicles that are used for other police functions, such as the mounted team and building maintenance. A local dealership agreed to lend CPD a few extra four-wheel drive vehicles, Bernhard said. Vehicles with four wheel drive allow officers to reach calls for service in residential neighborhoods and on side streets.
"We ask our officers from other divisions within the department to be available to be reassigned if necessary to patrol," Bernhard said. "We will respond to all calls for service, although we do prioritize them and it does take us longer to respond to some calls. We do ask for citizens to use online reporting for reporting crimes not in progress."
Michelle Baumstark, a Columbia Public Schools spokeswoman, said the schools would wait until Thursday morning to make a decision to cancel school as a precautionary measure. MU also waited to determine whether the predictions would be accurate before calling off the school day.
In addition to MUPD’s MU Alerts, Residence Hall Coordinators have also notified students of the changing weather status through email. Residential Life and the MU facilities staff worked to keep the sidewalks and entrances clear of snow.
The snow was expected to reach up to 6 inches, but, according to the NOAA National Weather Service, the exact accumulation will depend on the storm’s path.