As longtime Minnesotans know, planning ahead for winter storms should begin when the leaves begin to fall. This is not only a ritual but the foundation of a safety plan.
Nov. 5 to 9 is Winter Hazard Awareness Week in Minnesota. The website provides information to help you plan for winter. It also contains current information on the types of winter weather storm warnings, safety kits and winter driving.
To assist you in this preparation, the University of St. Thomas has developed the following information and guidelines for what to do and who to call during a winter weather snow emergency on campus.
Will a winter storm cancel classes? Dial 962-SNOW to find out
Love them or hate them, we can count on at least a couple of storms this winter. When the snow starts piling up and driving becomes treacherous, one of the first things that students, staff and faculty start to wonder is whether the university will declare a snow emergency and cancel classes or close.
When the university officially is closed because of inclement weather, all classes are canceled, and all administrative offices are closed for the day; however, it may be possible for classes to be cancelled and for the university to be open. It is important to listen carefully to the status of the university.
Once a decision is made, it will first be announced on the “Snow Line”: (651) 962-SNOW or (651) 962-7669, if your phone does not have letters on the keys. This will be the most up-to-date source for you to call. No other department or phone number will have more updated information.
The decision to close the university will be made by 6 a.m., if at all possible. When the university is officially closed, all classes are canceled and all administrative offices are closed for the day.
If weather improves during the day … or gets worse
On occasion, the inclement weather subsides as the day progresses. On these occasions, a decision to reopen the university for evening classes and other activities will be made by 3 p.m. In cases where the university is open during the day, but worsening conditions warrant the cancellation of evening classes and activities, that decision also will be announced by 3 p.m.
Radio and television announcements
St. Thomas will continue to use WCCO’s synchronized alert on WCCO radio (AM 830), WCCO TV and WCCO’s website as the official closing-notification. Students, staff and faculty will know what decision has been made if they listen to or view the station updates closing information between 6 and 8 a.m.
In addition the university also alerts two local television stations, KARE and KSTP.
Who needs to come in; who can stay home
All employees who are not designated as “emergency essential employees” are excused from work, without change in compensation, for the day of closing. Emergency essential employees are required to report to work as scheduled. The following positions are designated as emergency essential employees: Public Safety officers, IRT server administrators, Resident Dining Food Service workers, and certain Physical Plant employees, such as Physical Plant managers, building service workers, grounds workers, shift supervisors and managers, maintenance mechanics and electricians. If you are unsure whether you are an emergency essential employee, please contact your manager. Emergency essential employees will be compensated according to the university’s Inclement Weather Closing Policy, except that emergency essential employees who are represented by a union will be paid according to their collective bargaining agreement.
The O’Shaughnessy-Frey Library and Archbishop Ireland Memorial Library will attempt to be open with a limited staff, though these staff are not designated as emergency essential employees.
In addition to the SNOW phone and radio …
The university will use several additional methods to announce the cancellation of classes, or the reopening of evening classes if weather permits:
In addition to the message available at (651) 962-SNOW, a recorded announcement will be sent to all voice mailboxes on campus.
Students who live on campus can hear the message simply by accessing their voice messages.
Faculty and staff can access the message on their campus voice mailboxes by using two methods. If school is closed for the day, faculty and staff are encouraged to leave that information on their personal voice greetings.
Here’s how to access your St. Thomas voice mailbox from off campus:
Option 1 (This is the preferred method; note that in most cases the box number is the same as your five-digit campus extension.)
Dial (651) 962-7777. When the system answers, enter your five-digit voice mailbox number. You then will be prompted to enter your pass code. Upon doing so, you will have accessed your voice mailbox.
Option 2 (This works well for multiple-box environments, where you share a phone with others.)
Dial your St. Thomas phone number. If you are in a multiple-box environment, press 1 or 2. Press the star key (*). You then will be prompted to enter your pass code. Upon doing so, you will have accessed your voice mailbox.
Please note that if school does close and a voice message is sent to all St. Thomas voice mailboxes, you will NOT have a light indicator of a new message.
Announcements of school cancellations or reopenings will be sent to all St. Thomas email accounts. The announcement will be added that day to the Newsroom home page and will be sent separately as a Newsroom Update.
The announcements made by email will be made as soon as possible but will not be available as early in the morning as the phone messages. The email announcements will be especially useful for evening-class students who might wonder in the afternoon if they need to drive to class that night.
About the libraries
The O’Shaughnessy Frey Library will attempt to be open during weather emergencies on days the university is closed. Any changes in the hours will be made available on the libraries’ website and also can be heard on the hours telephone message for each library.
Other St. Thomas libraries likely will be closed.
Phone numbers for individual libraries are on the libraries’ Inclement Weather Web page.
Chat Reference Service
UST Libraries generally will staff the chat reference service from remote locations during weather emergencies. See the IM reference page for status at that time.
St. Paul and Minneapolis snow emergency information
If you’d like to be notified when St. Paul or Minneapolis have declared snow emergencies for the cities, you can sign up for their notification services:
Also note: It is illegal in St. Paul to leave snow accumulation on a sidewalk. Saint Paul City Ordinance requires snow and ice to be removed from sidewalks within 24 hours.
A word about St. Paul’s E-Subscription system (email and SMS/text messaging)
By going to the city of St. Paul’s E-Subscription website, you can sign up to be notified by email or text message when the city has declared a snow emergency.
St. Thomas students, staff and faculty interested in the city’s electronic notifications are encouraged to sign up for that service using their St. Thomas email address, personal (non-St. Thomas) email address and/or wireless cell phone number.
A place to stay on campus in case you are snowbound
During office hours, commuter students should work with Off-Campus Student Services or the Dean of Students Office. After business hours, students can work with Public Safety. Either of these offices will work with the students to meet their needs, which may include staying overnight. In that case, either office will contact Residence Life regarding availability.
Parking on campus during snow emergencies
During a snow emergency, normal parking restrictions on campus still apply. Students and employees still are required to have a permit to park on campus; this necessary procedure allows for an orderly flow of the university’s internal snow removal. This includes no overnight parking in non-resident parking lots.
In some cases, a lot or location may be closed off due to snow removal. The Newsroom will announce parking-related information as it becomes available.
Resident students with permits also should make sure to check for lot-closing postings during heavy snowfalls in the event it is necessary to close resident lots for plowing. This also will be announced in the Newsroom.
The (off campus) 48-hour rule
Keep in mind that the city of St. Paul’s snow-emergency rules do not impact the existing rule that cars must be moved every 48 hours if parked on a residential street. Vehicles still must be moved regularly.
As noted in the university’s St. Paul Parking Guide: “Even in areas where no permit is required, there is a 48-hour limit for parking a vehicle in the same location on city streets.”
Where to find this message when the snow starts falling
If severe winter weather is on the way, you will find a link to this information on the Newsroom homepage.