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Weather leaves uncertainty over canceling classes for Ohio State

Snow covered The Oval during the first week of the 2018 Spring semester. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Managing Editor for Design

The National Weather Service is warning Ohio State faculty and students: do not be outside for long on Wednesday.

John Franks, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Wilmington, Ohio, said with wind chills reaching a high of 19 degrees below zero and low of minus 24, it could take only 15 to 20 minutes for frostbite to occur.

“Basically you just want to have any exposed skin covered so that doesn’t happen,” Franks said. “Don’t be the person wearing shorts and sandals.”

When the middle of the week hits, Columbus will experience what the National Weather Service is forecasting as the coldest weather of the season.

Franks said the high on Wednesday will be 1 degree. However, when factoring in wind chill, Ohio State students can expect the real feel to be minus 19 at its warmest Wednesday morning and afternoon. It will reach as cold as minus 24 late Wednesday and early Thursday.

Franks said gusts of wind will reach 30 to 35 mph early in the day and will calm to between 20 and 25 mph in the afternoon. He noted a prevailing wind of 15 mph will be constant throughout the day.

Despite the forecast predicting extreme cold, Ohio State has not made decisions regarding the cancellation of classes. A press release Monday said there is no temperature, snowfall or hazard that will trigger a closure.

The release said university leaders discuss the weather conditions and the necessity of a closure with medical experts, student health services, the Department of Public Safety, other university groups and National Weather Service forecasts to determine if a cancellation is necessary.

“The safety of students, faculty and staff is the university’s top priority,” the release said. “The obligation to provide the full measure of instruction to tuition-paying students is also a critical factor.”

The release noted that the Columbus campus has closed or canceled classes for just 13 days since 1978. The last time Ohio State closed its campus was Jan. 6 and 7 in 2014, when temperatures dipped to minus 7, with windchill bringing the real feel down to minus 35.

One student at Ohio State started a petition Monday afternoon to cancel classes Wednesday. By the time of publication, the petition had more than 13,000 signatures.

Other schools in Columbus have not made a decision on classes. Franklin University, Columbus State Community College and Columbus College of Art and Design spokespersons said decisions have yet to be made at their respective schools.

David Wayne, communications coordinator at Columbus State Community College, noted administrators were discussing whether to cancel classes, but they want to be extra cautious to avoid making a decision too early.

“You look back to Saturday when they were expecting all this snow and we got rain, they just want to be extra cautious,” Wayne said.

Universities across the city will refrain from making a decision on classes until Tuesday, if not early Wednesday, when forecasts will be more accurate.

Ohio State spokesman Dan Hedman said if an announcement on classes is going to be made, it will be sent out to students before 5 a.m. the day of the scheduled classes, if not earlier. Students and faculty are also encouraged to check emergency.osu.edu or on Twitter at @OSU_EMFP.

6 comments

  1. Concerned Citizen

    I really think we should have school, there is this really cute girl in my class on Wednesday and I want to talk to her

  2. the cute girl in class can wait

  3. I graduated from OSU in December of 1994. I remember it was either the winter of 1993 or 1994 when they had about 8″ of snow in a short period of time. This was preceded by another snow storm a day or two prior and there was still snow on the ground when they got the second one. No side street in Columbus or the suburbs had been plowed by my noon class. I got stuck in my street trying to get to class. I called the president’s office and complained that they did not cancel classes. I was told they had not cancelled class since 18xx? (don’t remember the exact year she gave me). They did not cancel class that day.
    The Lantern then posted a story the following day that a student had slipped and fell on the sidewalk at OSU and had died because no one saw him lying on the ground because he was surrounded by snow. They cancelled the day after the snow storm (prob because of the death of the student). But it was too late for him. He was already dead.

  4. Currently 69% of students live off-campus. OSU should make decisions based on this fact. Many of those students drive to campus and park in remote lots. It is a 20 minute or more walk from those lots to class. In -20 degree weather, it is dangerous for students to walk that distance in that weather. Decisions should be made with priority given to the safety of students rather than priority given to scheduling inconveniences.

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