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Record-breaking snow expected to hit Stillwater, is OSU prepared?

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cold library

This week, classes on Monday and Wednesday were completely cancelled, while Tuesday classes began at noon. OSU continues to monitor the weather and make plans accordingly.

All across OSU campus, the sound of ice scrapers being forcefully pushed across windshields and windows has become a common sound. In some areas, thick and slippery ice coats the ground, making a student’s daily commute require more focus than usual.

As temperatures in Stillwater rapidly decline, students across campus have been urged to use caution and be careful when it comes to driving and walking through areas with possible ice. OSU used ice-melt, salt treatment and sand as classes were set to a half-day on Tuesday.

A large winter storm is predicted to hit Stillwater over the weekend. This snowstorm is expected to carry record-breaking amounts of snow and leave Stillwater encased in a block of ice for the next week.

The upcoming storm carries more snow than Oklahoma has seen in years. There have only been nine instances of snowfall deeper than eight inches since 1951, and an average of 10-15 inches of snowfall is expected this weekend, up to 20 in specific areas.

“This is going to be a very dry or fluffy snow, so the biggest threat will be the snow depth but then that snow will easily blow and drift producing low visibility and significant snowdrifts along highways,” said Meteorologist Jonathan Conder from KOCO 5 out of Oklahoma City. “Over time as people are driving on that snow it will become compacted and it may melt causing icy roads over the next several days. Once that snow starts to melt the other threat we will see, is at night it will refreeze and therefore we could have more icy spots on the highways over the next week.” Conder said.

The character of the snow makes it easy to move, as it will be light and fluffy, but this also creates a hazard when paired with high wind speeds. It is expected to snow from Saturday to Monday, but even once the snow is done falling, the melting process brings its own set of complications.

Many students wonder if the trend of canceled classes will continue into next week due to the unfavorable weather conditions. Shannon Rigsby, an OSU public information officer, explains the school’s current standing of the idea of canceled classes and continued snow days.

“The National Weather Service says this is still an evolving situation. We will be closely monitoring conditions all weekend. It is still too early to make a decision on classes next week.” Rigsby said. “If inclement weather creates hazardous conditions, university officials are considering a move to a virtual campus and virtual courses rather than a closed campus and canceled courses.”

Students are no strangers to a virtual setting, and this move would allow professors to avoid losing even more time than they already have.

Aside from classwork and possible cancelation, there is a question of general safety. What should students be doing to prepare for a possible snow-in? Is the university prepared to treat the campus properly to avoid slick roads and possible injuries?

“Frigid temperatures of this nature should not be taken lightly. Take care of errands early so that if the weather comes in according to the forecast, everyone is prepared. For those who must get out, dress in layers. Put extra blankets in the car,” said Rigsby. “Facilities Management has equipment, sand, salt and manpower for a snow and ice removal for the pending severe weather. FM has also ordered rental equipment to supplement what the university already owns to assist with clearing snow and ice. Crews are ready to respond,” Rigsby said.

Meteorologist Jonathan Conder also offers advice, saying that any necessities should be bought and stocked before it is too late.

“To be prepared for the storm I suggest everyone just have the basic necessities that they need to have on hand to feed their family. I would suggest food that doesn’t need to be cooked. There is a risk of power outages and I’m sure nobody wants to be standing outside cooking on the grill,” Conder said.

It is suggested that travel be kept to a bare minimum, as road conditions are expected to decline and continue to worsen over the weekend.

"Travel will be dangerous if not impossible throughout late Sunday and into the day on Monday and maybe into Tuesday. I would not want my friends or family traveling across the region at any point on Monday because of the dangerous travel conditions," Conder said.

For students staying in dorms, keep in mind the possibility of power outages and make sure you have plenty of blankets on-hand. Use your meal plan to stock up on non-perishable foods in case of the union or even North Dining being unable to open.

If you have questions or concerns about the weather, see the safety tips at safety.okstate.edu. Or, visit the National Weather Service website.