MU cancelled classes for the eighth time in history Thursday when the amount of snowfall surpassed early predictions of 4 to 6 inches.
The snow began to fall at 8 a.m., and by 11 a.m. there were already 5 inches accumulated, according to KOMU.
Chet Dunn, Road Operations Manager at the Boone County Public Works office, said crews pretreated the major roads at 1 a.m. and had been plowing them since 9 a.m., trying to keep them passable. “With it snowing so much, it’s hard to keep up,” Dunn said.
He said crews would be working 24/7 until all roads are cleared, which might not be until sometime Saturday.
By noon Thursday, 6 inches of snow had already accumulated, and stations were predicting up to 10 inches, with snow falling until midnight or the early morning.
With this news, Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency. He urged citizens to avoid unnecessary travel and to rely on news sources to assess conditions.
An hour later, MU Alert announced the cancellation of classes for the rest of the day.
Director of MU News Services Mary Jo Banken said the fact that the snow didn’t start falling until after 8 a.m. delayed the decision to cancel class and close the campus.
“Close to noon when the forecasts changed and the governor declared a state of emergency, we reassessed the situation,” Banken said. “We decided it was in the best interests of the students (to cancel classes).”
MU Alert announced the full closure of campus at 1 p.m. when 8 inches had accumulated. Some buildings remained open though, such as the Student Center, which MU announced would remain open 24 hours.
With roads in unsafe conditions, the Student Center soon became a refuge for students who lived off campus and were stranded.
Senior Asia Myles, whose only class of the day was at 9:30 a.m., said she had been waiting for hours at the Student Center for an 11 a.m. bus to go home. She said when she first arrived on campus, the snow hadn’t started falling yet.
“It was just cold,” Myles said. “But afterward it was a lot worse.”
MU student Hannah Pancoast said she was in a chemistry lab when classes were cancelled. She said the teacher’s assistant told students they could clean up and leave halfway through the class.
Pancoast also lives off campus, but said her bus home, like many other buses, wasn’t running due to the weather. She said she was trying to find another way home.
“I’ve seriously considered just walking home,” she said.
Most drivers who braved the snow suffered severe backups. Some even got stuck in the unplowed streets. Police officers and fellow drivers were seen trying to help them out.
Missouri Students Association President Nick Droege offered his help over Twitter, telling students to tweet at him if stuck drivers needed “a push.”
By the evening, almost 10 inches of snow had accumulated in parts of Columbia.