‘Cold days’ freeze classes

Emily Pagel

Lower Harbor's ore dock’s waterways lay frozen over after temperatures between -20 and -40 degrees Fahrenheit with windchill hit Marquette County. The subzero temperatures caused two “cold days” at NMU. (Kelly McCommons /NW)
Lower Harbor’s ore dock’s waterways lay frozen over after temperatures between -20 and -40 degrees Fahrenheit with windchill hit Marquette County. The subzero temperatures caused two “cold days” at NMU. (Kelly McCommons /NW)

Northern Michigan University campus was closed two consecutive days on Monday, Jan. 27 and Tuesday, Jan. 28 due to inclement weather.

According to Mike Bath, Director of Public Safety and Police Services the decision to close NMU depended on the extreme cold from the polar vortex hitting the Midwest.

“We had extreme cold and wind chill,” Bath said. “We wanted to consider the safety of students walking up from the resident halls and across campus in those when deciding to close the university.”

The decision to cancel classes due to inclement weather is made cooperatively by the director of Public Safety and Police Services as well as NMU’s provost and vice president of Academic Affairs.

Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Paul Lang said he coordinated with Bath to make the decision on the university closing.

“We have a process in place where if the weather seems inclement, whether it be cold or snowy or both, our Public Safety director starts to watch the weather around 4 a.m.,” Lang said.  “He does that in a number of ways by having police patrol making reports about wind chill, the amount of snow that is on the ground, and the amount of  snow that may be blowing against the buildings.”

Along with working with local police and the weather service, Bath said Public Safety works with ground departments to check the conditions on campus.

“We coordinate with the ground departments to check the conditions of sidewalks, building entry ways and roads surrounding campus,” Bath said.

Lang said Public Safety also works in coordination with the State Police and National Weather Service to collect data in making the decision on the closing.

“We normally collect that information the day before,” Lang said. “Bath will call around 4:30 a.m. on what he found. He will talk about wind chill  and  snowfall and at that point I make the decision on if we are going to close the university for that day.”

Lang said when the university is closed, students should take the weather conditions seriously.

“When we close I would hope that people would understand that we’re closing for a very serious reason,” Landgsaid. “This past week the wind temperature and wind chill factor were extraordinarily low. And when they’re that low you have to be prepared if you’re going outside for any period of time.Be layered really good heavy clothing, covering your hands with gloves and your face with a scarf.”

According to Lang students should also prepare for snowy weather when the cold is not as much of a hazard.

“Snows a little bit different,” Lang said. “That’s not so much coldness as the ability for people to drive and get around. With snow especially when it is windy it can create white outs and students need to be conscious of the fact someone might be driving a car and they may not be able to see you if you’re a pedestrian. So everyone needs to be super vigilant when the snow is blowing.”

Bath said they try to inform students in a timely manner across a number of medias.

“We use email, text, we contact all the radios and tv stations, and use social media to inform students about the closure,” Bath said. “We try to make it early enough so people can plan accordingly.”

Students can check the NMU home page, www.nmu.edu or the NMU Public Safety and Police Services home page, www.nmu.edu/publicsafety for information about cancellations and delays. Students can also call the B-R-R-R line at (906) 227-BRRR for more information about school closings.  Students can also sign up for the Emergency Text Alert System and be notified by email and text message when NMU closes.