Extreme winter weather temperatures lead to University closure

Anna Lassmann

The first day of class and University has been canceled due to extreme weather predictions from the National Weather Service and University meteorologist Troy Kimmel. Campus shuttle buses will also not be in service.

Kimmel predicted temperatures to drop into the 30s Monday night around 10 p.m. as the cold front comes through, with freezing temperatures beginning around 1 a.m. on Tuesday. It is likely there will be ice, snow and sleet throughout Monday night into Tuesday afternoon. Freezing temperatures will persist through Wednesday. Kimmel predicts dangerous road conditions will develop during this time.

“I advise people to bundle up and to use extra caution when you’re walking and driving,” Kimmel said.

The last time the University closed for winter conditions was Jan. 28, 2014 and the last time the University had a delayed start due to winter conditions was Dec. 8, 2017.

Laurie Lentz, communications manager for University Planning, Energy and Facilities, said General Construction within the University’s Project Management and Construction will be sanding roads and bridges on campus once ice appears. Landscape Services will also be using an environmentally sensitive ice melt product on sidewalks and shutting off all irrigation on campus so as not to contribute to the icy conditions.

Emily Dsida grew up in Massachusetts and has experienced freezing conditions many times. Dsida said she advises students, staff and faculty to wear shoes with decent tread to avoid slipping on ice and wear many layers.

“One of the biggest safety hazards when you're dealing with cold weather is black ice, which is very thin and hard to see,” Dsida said, a radio-television-film junior. “Whether you're driving, walking or biking around campus, it's important to go slower than you normally would to avoid slipping or losing control of your vehicle. I know everyone is in a hurry to get to class or work, but it's not worth the risk.”

The decision to close or delay the University is ultimately up to University President Gregory Fenves with consideration from conversations with the Texas Department of Transportation, local law enforcement, meteorologists and other officials about road conditions and weather forecasts. Students, faculty and staff were notified of the University’s closure through a UT Safety Alert email at 6:45 p.m. Monday.

The University of Texas Police Department is urging students, faculty and staff to follow UTPD on Twitter and Facebook for official weather updates, as well as the UT Emergency page, according to Cindy Posey.