NMU braces for additional snow

A+layer+of+ice+covers+the+wildcat+statue+in+the+academic+mall.+NMU+had+three+campus-wide+closures+including+the+cancellation+of+evening+classes+due+to+below+freezing+temperatures+and+the+accumulation+of+snow.+%0ATim+Eggert%2FNW

A layer of ice covers the wildcat statue in the academic mall. NMU had three campus-wide closures including the cancellation of evening classes due to below freezing temperatures and the accumulation of snow. Tim Eggert/NW

Over the past week, NMU had three campus-wide closures including the cancellation of evening classes due to below freezing temperatures and the accumulation of snow.

Last Wednesday and Thursday were met with wind chill levels nearing -30 degrees. The extreme cold was followed by freezing drizzle on Monday, Feb. 4, which caused another campus closure.

“Untreated roadways and sidewalks are extremely slippery due to ice. Use caution,” a NMUPD public safety alert system email sent around 5:30 a.m. on Monday said.

The email came after a malfunction of the text alert system, which led NMUPD to contact tech support for the vendor that provides the mass messaging
service.

“This is a good example of why we use multiple systems in the event that one system does not function accordingly,” an email sent an hour and a half later said.

Despite the fluctuations in weather, temperatures and snowfall are still within average, National Weather Service of Marquette Meteorologist Matt Zika said.

December temperatures were about four degrees above normal, whereas January’s temperatures were about four degrees below normal. February will most likely come out in the normal scope as well, Zika said. The coldest temperatures came in the winter of 2013/14, he added.

Wild weather patterns affecting the U.P. are not unusual, Zika said.

“The fact that it was so quiet early in the winter makes it seem a little bit more extreme right now because it wasn’t that way earlier in the winter,” Zika said. “It’s not that unusual to go through stretches of extreme cold in the winter or storms for two to three weeks in a row, and that’s the pattern we’re in right now.”

Zika added it’s important that students are prepared for the extreme cold temperatures, referencing the recent death of former NMU student Guiancarlo Estupigan who was found dead near the Yellow Dog River after he went missing on Jan. 24. There were student deaths due to exposure at the University of Vermont and the University of Iowa during the polar vortex as well, he added.

Being safe outside during the winter boils down to simple common sense and preparedness, Zika said.

“It’s important to always dress for the weather, even if you’re just walking across campus and especially if you’re going out with your friends skiing or heading up to Sugar Loaf,” he added.

It’s important for people to have extra blankets and winter gear in their cars as well, in case their car gets stuck or ends up in a ditch, Zika added.

“The reality is that if you’re not prepared when it gets that cold out, it doesn’t take too long for that cold to take an effect on you,” Zika said.

Zika predicts the snow will come this afternoon, which could make travel to evening classes difficult. He also predicts that winter will stretch long into April because of the warmer days Michigan saw during the fall, which follow climate shifting trends throughout the past 20 years.