Updated: Severe weather policy cancels Duke's Thursday classes
Duke issued its first multiple-day class cancellation since 2000 Wednesday night.
Duke's severe weather policy—activated at 1 p.m. Wednesday—was extended to Thursday at 7 p.m., canceling classes for the second day in a row. A Duke Alert sent at 9:41 a.m. Wednesday announced to the student body that classes would end at 12:50 p.m. as a result of Duke's severe weather policy. This is the second winter storm this year that resulted in canceled classes. Duke last canceled classes for snow in 2004.
Only several Duke clinics will be open tomorrow, according to a Duke Alert email. Patients scheduled for Thursday should have already been notified as to whether their appointments have been canceled. Staff members with "essential service" positions are required to come to work, but those with "delayed service" positions should not report to work.
Most bus transportation and van services were halted at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Despite the winter storm warning, the Duke-North Carolina game was originally expected to go on as planned as of 1 p.m. Wednesday, said Art Chase, assistant director of athletics and external affairs. Tipoff was later pushed back to 9:10 p.m., but they eventually decided to postpone the game to Thursday Feb. 20.
"I think all of us have a responsibility to be very, very careful," said Vice President for Administration Kyle Cavanaugh. "There is advice coming through the Department of Transportation that, unless it is absolutely critical, to stay off the roads tonight. The roads are going to be bad this evening."
A severe weather policy was also issued Jan. 28—eventually canceling classes for the entirety of that Wednesday.
Vice President for Student Affairs Larry Moneta said this has been a "distinctive year" of issuing severe weather policies. Although classes have been cancelled due to weather conditions before, this is the first time in recent history classes were cancelled two separate times in one year due to severe weather.
He said the last ice storm was in 2002 and that there was a 22 in. snow storm in 2000. The snow storm in 2000 caused Duke's first multiple-day class cancellation in recent history.
In 2004, a Sunday evening snow storm cancelled morning classes Feb. 15, but they resumed after 10 a.m. A severe weather policy also cancelled classes Feb. 2003 for a full Monday and part of Tuesday morning.
The winter storm warning also reminds North Carolina residents to travel safely and prepare for possible power outages.
"Travel will be dangerous through Thursday," the warning states. "Accumulating snow and significant ice accumulation will result in downed trees and prolonged power outages, possibly beginning as early as this afternoon in the Southern Piedmont. Power may be out for more than a day if a half inch of ice occurs."
When severe weather is expected, Vice President for Administration Kyle Cavanaugh convenes a weather council to discuss the conditions and how to best prepare. The roads and entrances were pretreated prior to the snow falling, and generators are set to kick in for certain buildings in the unlikely case of a power outage. The council also makes a recommendation to Provost Peter Lange on class delays or cancellations, and Lange makes the final call on whether to cancel classes and, if so, for how long. Cavanaugh added that teams are currently preparing to remove snow from parking lots and roads.
Although the winter storm warning reminds North Carolina residents to prepare for possible power outages, Moneta said Duke "won't lose power."
"If you notice there aren't power lines on campus—that’s the only reason why power gets lost because ice on tree branches brings down power lines," he noted.
He did note that there are some areas on campus, such as Swift Avenue apartments, that may experience a loss of power due to power lines. He said the administration has "hip pocket evacuation plans" for students who live in those apartments if they lose power.
Moneta added that as a major medical and research campus it is important Duke does not lose power due to severe weather as it could affect patient care and eliminate years worth of research.
In an email to the student body, Moneta said elevated walkways, primary sidewalks, ADA entrances, primary roads, parking lots and entrances to parking garages have been pretreated.
"Members of the Duke community should only use priority roads, walkways and parking lots or garages during winter weather to reduce the potential for accidents and injuries," Moneta wrote in the email to the student body Wednesday morning.