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Univ braces for blizzard, cancels Friday classes

Published: February 8, 2013
Section: Front Page, News


With a blizzard warning in effect and forecasters predicting about two feet of snow along with the possibility of white out conditions and near zero visibility at times, university officials canceled classes Friday but expected the campus to operate without any major difficulties during the weekend.

“Dining halls are fully staffed. They have enough food, they plan to run regularly,” Director of Public Safety Ed Callahan said Thursday afternoon. “We don’t anticipate any major disruptions.”

The National Weather Service in Taunton, Mass. issued a blizzard warning in effect from 6 a.m. on Friday to 1 p.m. on Saturday and anticipates 18-24 inches of snow for the area, along with wind gusts higher than 60 m.p.h., leading to blowing and drifting snow.

Kim Buttrick, a meteorologist at the NWS, said forecasts predict the storm will be historic because of snowfall.

“With each model run, our confidence level is going up that this could be a historic storm for Southern New England,” Buttrick said.

She explained that one way the NWS ranks the impact of storms in the area is by measuring snowfall in Boston. A February 2003 storm that dumped 27.6 inches of snow on the city tops the list, followed by the famous Blizzard of 1978, which totaled 27.1 inches. A storm in December 2010 left 18.2 inches and the NWS expects this weekend’s blizzard to place on the list, Buttrick said, thus making it historic.

The full peak of the storm will be between 2 p.m. on Friday and mid-morning on Saturday, she added, noting that people traveling Friday night may find their cars stranded.

“Try to have all errands and preparations done by noon tomorrow,” Buttrick said.

University officials originally planned to cancel all classes starting at noon, they wrote in an email early Thursday evening. But a few hours later, following a press conference by Gov. Deval Patrick, officials sent an email saying Brandeis would close for the day.

“As a predominantly residential university, our objective is to hold classes whenever it is safe to do so. Accordingly, based on the most current weather forecast for tomorrow afternoon, Brandeis will be closed on Friday, February 8. All classes and public activities are canceled,” officials wrote in the email.

In an evening press conference, Patrick asked private employers to allow workers to remain at home and told non-emergency employees working in Executive Branch agencies to stay home as well.

Brandeis Public Safety will have officers on campus during the storm and Callahan said that while Facilities may use private companies to help with plowing and snow removal as it sometimes does, he anticipates few major issues, given that there is no snow on the ground already.

“Facilities is confident that they can mitigate the amount of snow,” Callahan said.

“In the event of additional changes to class schedules or activities, the community will be notified through local radio and television stations and via SMS text message,” officials wrote in the email.

The Goldfarb Library will be closed on Saturday, while Farber One and Farber Mezzanine will be open on Saturday from noon to 8 p.m., along with the Library Cafe. The Boston/Cambridge shuttle will be canceled, officials said, but the campus and Waltham shuttle will run on Friday and Saturday.