A blizzard hit the state and led to two straight days of canceled classes for Ohio State in January 1978. While 36 years later, classes have been called off for two consecutive days again, the circumstances are fairly different.
The 1978 blizzard killed more than 50 people in Ohio, according to the Akron-Beacon Journal. Temperatures in Columbus Jan. 26, the day the blizzard hit, reached a high of 39 degrees and a low of 1 degree, while winds reached up to 46 mph, according to Weather Underground.
In comparison, the temperature in Columbus Tuesday is predicted to hit a high of 11 degrees with a 10 percent chance of snow and winds reaching about 19 mph, forecasted as of Monday afternoon according to The Weather Channel. Temperatures rose to 31 degrees Monday but fell to minus 7 by Monday evening, as winds stayed at about 20 mph.
Because of those extreme weather conditions, all OSU campuses are closed for the second consecutive day Tuesday.
OSU Emergency Management sent a message to the OSU community Monday at about 3:20 p.m. confirming the closure, and campus is expected to be open and resume normal activity Wednesday.
The other OSU branches scheduled to be closed Tuesday are ATI Wooster, Mansfield, Newark, Lima and Marion. “Essential personnel” are expected to report to work as usual, according to the OSU Emergency Management website.
Of those campuses, Tuesday’s temperatures are predicted to reach 9 degrees in Newark, 6 degrees in Lima and Marion, 5 degrees in Wooster and 4 degrees in Mansfield. Most of those campuses face a 10 percent chance of snow, though Wooster has a predicted 20 percent chance of snow, as of Monday evening, according to The Weather Channel.
Tuesday is the 10th time OSU has closed since 1978. OSU Administration and Planning spokeswoman Lindsay Komlanc said most recently, evening classes were canceled in February 2011 because of snow. The most recent cancellation in January was January 2009, which was because of snow, Komlanc said.
Some dining locations are expected to maintain limited service Tuesday, as they did Monday.
Those locations included Sloopy’s Diner and Traditions dining locations, and some students living in residence halls headed to them Monday for food.
Maggie Smith, a first-year in accounting, said the weather interfered, though.
“The wind was whipping us in the face” while she and others were waiting outside at Sloopy’s to eat, she said.
After making the walk from Baker Hall West to Sloopy’s with three friends, Joe Mulea, a first-year in business, said he was in pain.
“It hurt physically to walk. My face was hurting. I felt my nose hairs freezing, it was so cold,” he said.
Jason Crowe, the operations manager for Sloopy’s, said for the most part, though, students who went to the diner were in high spirits and were understanding about the wait time. He added that Sloopy’s was “super slammed” with a greater volume of customers than anticipated.
Crowe said many employees who were not scheduled to work Monday came in anyway to “chip in and help out on their day off” because they thought the staff would need help.
Student manager of North Commons, Craig Fink, a third-year in sports industry, said his staff also experienced hectic conditions in the North Campus dining locations.
“Traditions dining is very busy, as students are just hanging around in dining areas,” Fink said.
Steve Scudier, a third-year in international studies and manager-in-training at Morrill Traditions, was scheduled to work the closing shift Monday night at the dining hall.
Scudier said Monday afternoon he was not looking forward to his usual 25-minute walk from his house.
“I plan to wear two coats and a bunch of layers to get there,” Scudier said. Laughing, he added, “I am trying as hard as I can to convince my roommate to drive me.”
Komlanc said in an email Friday OSU uses “flexible” guidelines when deciding whether to close.
“There is no set policy on what it takes to close the university. This allows for flexibility in decision making. Variables that are considered include whether roads, parking lots and sidewalks are clear, whether buildings are and can be kept warm, and whether the weather is dangerous,” Komlanc said.
She said according to OSU policy, the president or “authorized designee” is expected to make the decision to cancel classes by 5 a.m. for day classes, and added that classes will typically resume the next day unless students, faculty and staff are otherwise notified.
According to a notice from OSU spokesman Gary Lewis, essential employees might “be required to report to work and should check with their supervisor.”
Monday’s campus closure was announced Sunday evening. An OSU athletics human resources director said in an email OSU had made the decision to close the main campus based on the severe temperatures and weather expected. The Lantern obtained a copy of the email, which was received by a student involved in the athletic department at about 8:20 p.m. Roughly an hour later, OSU students and staff received an email from OSU Emergency Management with notice of the closure.
When asked why those affiliated with the athletic department received a notification of the closure before the general student population, Lewis said in an email “the university provided a comprehensive message about main campus closings as soon as detailed information could be compiled and disseminated to all stakeholders” and provided no more information on the athletics email.
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