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. 10 to 14 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. Other winter weather warning information can be found at the National Weather Service or you can install one of the many good free weather apps on your cellphone. To further 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 winter weather snow storms that may impact the campus.

Will a winter storm cancel classes?

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 cancel classes or close because of the weather.

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 canceled and for the university to be open. It is important to listen carefully to the status of the university. The decision to close the university or cancel classes will be made by 6 a.m., if at all possible.

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.

USTALERT system

The University’s Emergency Notification System (USTALERT) will be used to issue a notice of Classes Canceled/Administrative Offices Closed and/or Event and Activities Canceled. Issuing a notice with USTALERT will automatically trigger the following:

  1. Registered phones will receive a text and/or phone alert
  2. All stthomas.edu email addresses will receive an alert
  1. An alert banner will drop down from the purple UST header on all UST websites
  2. Social media: The official UST Facebook page and Twitter feed will post the message from the ENS text alert

Information on registering your mobile phone with USTALERT can be found at http://www.stthomas.edu/ustcares/emergencynot/.

Dial 962-SNOW

The notice also will be announced on the “Snow Line”: (651) 962-SNOW or (651) 962-7669. This will be the most up-to-date source for you to call. No other department or phone number will have more updated information.

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 notification for closing or cancellation. Students, staff and faculty will know what decision has been made if they listen to or view the station updates about closing information between 6 and 8 a.m.

In addition the university also alerts two local television stations, KARE and KSTP.

Newsroom updates

The announcement will be added that day to the Newsroom home page and will be sent separately as a Newsroom update.

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 Facilities Management employees, such as 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.

About the libraries

The O’Shaughnessy Frey Library will attempt to be open during weather emergencies on days the university is closed. Other St. Thomas libraries likely will be closed. Any changes in the hours will be posted on the libraries’ website and social media sites. Changes also will be reflected on each library’s hours line. UST libraries’ staff generally will staff the chat reference service from remote locations during weather emergencies.

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. Parking-related information can be found on the Parking Services website.

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.

St. Paul and Minneapolis snow emergency information

The cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis may declare a “snow emergency” during snow events. This means that the city is placing a high priority on the plowing of city streets. To avoid your vehicle from being ticketed and towed, it is very important for you to know when you must move your car and where you can park it during these events. Please pay special attention throughout the day to your notifications to see if a “snow emergency” is declared.

If you’d like to be notified when the cities of St. Paul or Minneapolis have declared snow emergencies for the plowing of the streets, you may sign up for their notification services:

These sites (St. Paul and Minneapolis) also have detailed information about where and when to park during snow emergencies and how to recover an impounded car.

Also note: It is illegal in St. Paul and Minneapolis 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 the E-Subscription systems (email and SMS/text messaging)

By going to the city of St. Paul’s E-Subscription website or the city of Minneapolis’ 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 cellphone 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 should work with Public Safety by going to its office on the first floor of Morrison Hall. 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.

The (off campus) 48-hour rule

Keep in mind that the city of St. Paul’s snow-emergency rules override 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.