Western Michigan University students reacted strongly to the school’s decision not to close Tuesday, Jan. 28, and since then one question has echoed social media posts: what determines a snow day?
Tim Holysz, director of the WMU Landscape Services Facilities Management Department, said the decision essentially comes down to the volume of snow, and if staff can clear roads, sidewalks and parking lots by the time classes start at 8 a.m.
“Monday, we experienced up to 7-1/2 inches of new snow with white out conditions, very heavy drifting up to [2-4] foot drifts through out the parking lots, walks and roads that lasted through the morning hours,” said Holysz. “The simple fact is that campus lots became impossible to navigate through or even park in, and the sidewalks were blowing shut as fast as we could plow them.”
After Holysz recognized that campus, in the weather conditions Monday, would not be a suitable place for students to be, he followed the next step of the WMU protocol by running his recommendation to close campus by university administrators.
“There is strict protocol to follow. I begin by calling the VP of Business and Finance Jan Van Der Kley at 4 a.m. when inclement weather like this hits and give her all the information available; conditions on campus, conditions of the city, weather forecasting, and I give my recommendations. The Vice President then confers with President Dunn and Provost Tim Green and then a decision is made,” said Holysz.
Holysz also provided a few scenarios.
“If normal [4 inch] snowfall ends by 10 p.m., campus will be cleared by 8 a.m. ready for school to open. Snowfall greater than 6 inches will be cleared within 24 hours after the snow subsides,” said Holysz. “Early morning snow, that continues throughout the day, limits snow removal to passable conditions due to the high traffic flow. Campus will be cleared within 24 hours after the snow subsides.”