MU calls first weather cancellation day as students return from winter break on Jan. 24

Boone County Join Communication asked drivers to stay off roads because of difficult snow preventing crews from clearing snow during the storm on Jan. 24.
An ice-covered basketball court in front of Gillett Hall. Snowy, icy conditions can make it hard to traverse MU's campus. | Photo by Staff Photographer Kirubel Mesfin.

Weather-related cancellation days are not common place for MU, and on the morning of Jan. 24, school officials did not believe they would need to call for one. They believed that postponing classes until 10 a.m. would allow enough time for crews to clear the roads.

“We received a road report from MUPD about how things are looking, and at 4 a.m. on Friday we were of the mindset that while things were not great, we felt that by 10 a.m., at about midmorning, that after six hours, things would probably be in a place where we could get everyone to campus safely.” Christian Basi, director of MU News Bureau, said.

But with road conditions failing to improve and the storm still going strong, officials were forced to cancel classes, sending a notification to students at 8:57 a.m.

Some students were confused about the snow day but welcomed the three-day weekend.

“I think we could have probably gone to class, but I was happy I got to play in the snow,” Isabella Van Trease, a freshman living on campus who witnessed her first “snow day,” said.

However, it was not only those living on campus that MU was worried for. With poor road conditions being reported all over the county by Boone County Joint Communication, the call to cancel classes was becoming inevitable.

“We also started getting reports from Boone County asking people to stay off the roads, and that’s rare for them to send out that type of information,” Basi said. “We felt that with the way the snow was reacting at the time and the issue that Boone County was having clearing the streets at that time, we felt that it would not serve us better to continue the delay, and we decided it best to cancel the whole day.”

The deciding factor actually had very little to do with the severity of the storm. While there were several inches of snow coming down, it was less about the quantity and more about the kind of snow accumulating that crews had to clear. Plows were having trouble making their ways through the thick, sticky power, making the roads near impossible to clear with the snowfall refusing to stop.

While the snow may have been a mild inconvenience for students in the immediate aftermath of the storm, students from last semester will remember how bad the icy sidewalks were. While that was much less of a problem this time around, Basi acknowledges how much of an issue they were but also believes that MU crews did the best they could under the circumstances they were presented with.

“That’s a weather situation,” he said. “It’s not a matter of the university being more or less effective than they have been in clearing things. [It’s] one of those weird situations where you do your absolute best to do something ... and yet mother nature throws something at you that you either couldn’t have prepared for or is too difficult to get the solution done immediately.”

The weather in Missouri can be very unpredictable, which is why MU subscribes to weather service called Weather Or Not to help the university be better prepared for storms like the one on Jan. 24.

“We subscribe to it from approximately November to late March,” Basi said. “We can get a number of weird weather events between those two dates. The weather reports we get from those are literally on an hour-by-hour basis: it will tell us road temperatures are expected to dip between 3 and 6 a.m. and after 6 a.m may rise for about an hour, and then at 7 a.m. may dip back below for another four hours.”

Regardless, students all over campus took advantage of Missouri’s unpredictable weather and took the snow day in stride.

“I built a snowman, around midnight actually, so that was a very early start to my snow day and I just kind of rolled around and played in the snow,” Van Trease said.

The weather cancellation on Jan. 24 would not be the last, however, with MU being forced to close campus early on Feb. 5 as a direct result of dangerous road conditions caused by snow.

Edited by Alex Fulton | afulton@themaneater.com

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