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A Minnesota Daily reporter called today asking about the University’s process and procedures to close in the event of bad weather. I think the reporter was hoping for a simple answer like “when the wind chill drops to -40, the U is closed.” Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. There is no magic number for low temperature, wind chill or snowfall total that will automatically trigger a closure. Closing the University is not something that is taken lightly and as you might imagine, the decision involves many people.
The University’s official Inclement Weather process starts with the Director of the Department of Emergency Management, and ultimately involves Parking and Transportation Services, Metro Transit, Facilities Management Landcare, local law enforcement, the University’s Officer of the Day, the Senior Vice President and Provost, and ultimately my office. When dealing with snowfall, the general rule of thumb is that if the buses can run and crews can keep the parking lots and ramps open, it’s business as usual as the U. Dangerous temperatures are a bit more tricky. The last time the University closed because of extreme temperatures was in January of 1997 when then Governor Arne Carlson ordered all Minnesota public schools closed due to wind chills that dropped to -32 degrees.
It looks like the cold will hold on for at least a couple more days. Bundle up.