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Ohio State prepares for another harsh winter

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Snow blankets the Oval March 2. Credit: Lantern file photo

Snow blankets the Oval March 2.
Credit: Lantern file photo

Oh, the weather outside is frightful — or at least, it’s getting there.

According to the 2015 edition of the Old Farmer’s Almanac, Ohio can look forward to another harsh winter, with below-normal temperatures and above-normal snowfall.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac, which was started in 1792, boasts an 80 percent accuracy rate, according to its website.

Last winter, Ohio State called off main campus classes three times in the Spring Semester — Jan. 6, 7 and 28 — due to extreme weather conditions. Temperatures fell to roughly minus 7 degrees Jan. 6 and 7 and to about minus 11 degrees Jan. 28, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration archives.

In preparation for the upcoming conditions, many different departments in and around the university work in tandem, including Facilities Operations and Development, Transportation and Traffic Management, the Department of Public Safety, the Office of Student Life, the Wexner Medical Center, Athletics, Human Resources, the Office of Academic Affairs, CampusParc and others, said Administration and Planning spokesman Dan Hedman in an email.

“Facilities Operations and Development (FOD) works diligently to clear university roads, sidewalks and plazas on campus during snowstorms, enhancing safety for students, faculty and staff, as well as patients and visitors,” he said.

In anticipation of potential snow and ice, FOD has 2,000 tons of salt on hand to treat roadways and walkways–nearly double the amount stored for last winter, Hedman said.

“Prior to heavy snowstorms, roads are often pretreated with brining and then plowed, as needed,” he said.

Last winter FOD spent nearly $165,000 on salt and ice melting products. This year, they have already spent an additional $48,000, Hedman said.

There are 142 miles of sidewalk maintained by FOD, and it takes nearly four hours to clear them one time. An additional 32 miles of campus roadway require three to four hours to clear one time during consistent snowfall, Hedman said.

“In addition, consideration is given to how weather could impact scheduled events, traffic, bus routes, access to facilities, parking, classes and more,” Hedman said. “All units work cohesively to maintain the campus.”

Everyone plays a key role, from maintaining sidewalks and doorways to clearing parking lots and garages, Hedman said.

CampusParc, another key department in winter preparation, takes care of snow removal of parking lots and garages across campus.

“If there is a 50 percent or greater chance of snow or freezing rain, we also pretreat surface lots and garage rooftops,” said CampusParc spokesman David Hoover in an email. “Salt is used on lots and calcium is used on garage rooftops.”

Calcium chloride is a chemical commonly used as an ice melter that has been observed to be less harmful to concrete when compared to other chemical treatments, Hoover said. However, calcium has shown to be less effective than other chemicals in lower temperatures, he added.

“The calcium’s effectiveness is limited based on the temperature, but is necessary to prevent damage to concrete garages,” Hoover said.

Last winter, CampusParc set a budget of $350,800 for snow and ice removal, and ended up nearly $545,000 over by the end of the season. This year, they upped the budget to $609,600, Hoover said.

Hoover said that maintenance personnel will be on site during times of significant winter weather in order to monitor the situation and respond accordingly.

Matthew Ellis, a third-year in international studies and computer science, said he isn’t too worried about the snow and cold, and is confident in OSU’s ability to respond to winter conditions.

“I mean, I’m used to the snow, I’m OK with it,” Ellis said. “I have winter clothes, I’m prepared.”

Not all students, however, have the same outlook on the upcoming winter.

Kristen Morrow, a third-year in civil engineering, said she is not looking forward to the cold.

“I’ve lived in Ohio my whole life, but last year was the first year that I’ve really had to deal with the snow being as bad as it was,” Morrow said. “I’m not really looking forward to it again.”

Morrow said she is happy to hear that OSU is taking steps to prepare.

“I think it’s especially encouraging to hear that they got more salt,” she said. “There were definitely some places on campus where I had to walk through the snow last year and they weren’t salted, and they weren’t very well cleared. It just made going to class a lot harder, and it took a lot longer.”

Morrow said she has faith in OSU’s plan for combating this year’s winter weather.

“If OSU thinks they’ve prepared well enough and that they can make it a less painful experience for everyone, then I think they’ll do a good job with it,” she said.

One comment

  1. “Last winter, CampusParc set a budget of $350,800 for snow and ice removal, and ended up nearly $545,000 over by the end of the season. This year, they upped the budget to $609,600, Hoover said.”

    If, according to the above quote, CampusParc went over budget by $545,000 (which means the total spent was $895,800) shouldn’t the increase have been greater than $609,600. Or should the article have stated that the budget was $350,800 but CampusParc ended up spending nearly $545,000? Instead of being $545,000 over, CampusParc was merely $194,200 over the original budget.

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