Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass closes ahead of inclement weather

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(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)

(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)

The University of Massachusetts announced Monday afternoon that it will be closed beginning at 5:30 p.m. and will remain closed through at least Tuesday due to predicted near-blizzard conditions.

Earlier Monday afternoon, Gov. Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency and enacted a travel ban that becomes effective at midnight, prompting UMass to close down its operations.

“We thought it was a wise thing to do,” said UMass spokesperson Ed Blaguszewski. “We (wanted) students to be able to get home safely and then we will try to clean it off (Tuesday).”

Tyler Jankoski, meteorologist for WGGB ABC40, said the storm has the potential to be the largest since Springfield began keeping records in 1949. That year, 22 inches of snow fell between Feb. 28 and Mar. 1. Total accumulation between Monday and Tuesday night is expected to be between 18 and 24 inches.

Jankoski said that while light snow had already been reported in the Pioneer Valley by 4 p.m. Monday, the heaviest and steadiest wave of snow would last from midnight to noon Tuesday. He predicted that snowfall rate could be anywhere between one to four inches per hour during that period. Snow is expected to continue through Tuesday afternoon and evening.

Although Jankoski said that the impending storm does not constitute a blizzard warning, he advised that people be very cautious.

“Driving will be impossible tomorrow morning,” Jankoski said. “Visibility will be near zero at times, especially early on. These are ‘near-blizzard’ conditions.”

The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency said in a bulletin that temperatures are predicted to drop to between zero and -5 degrees in Western and Central Massachusetts during the storm.

According to a post on the “Late Night at Berk” Facebook page by Berkshire Dining Commons Manager Ryan Pipczynski, the dining hall has taken several steps to prepare for the storm.

Food orders were placed ahead of time in case the weather causes delays, and all Berk student supervisors are required to report to work on Tuesday.

“…the majority of them live right in (Southwest), and those that don’t will be picked up by me on my way into work,” Pipczynski wrote. “This will help with any staff shortages we might face in case full time staff aren’t able to get in.”

Blaguszewski said students should make sure they have enough food and emergency supplies, and that they should charge their electronic devices in case of a power outage. He noted that these preparations are especially important for off-campus students.

“I recommend having batteries and a radio device in case the power goes out,” Jankoski said.

Jankoski strongly urged students to avoid using the roads at all costs, warning that there are a lot of danger associated with vehicles sliding off of the road.

“Watch out for carbon monoxide poisoning if you are stuck in your car and the muffler is blocked,” Jankoski said. He recommended regularly opening the windows and running the car only long enough to get warm in this type of situation.

Jankoski also said that it could be difficult, or even impossible, for emergency vehicles to reach a car that is stuck during a storm.

If it is necessary to use the roads, Blaguszewski recommended using “caution and common sense when going out and traveling in difficult weather.”

“And be sure to watch out for other vehicles traveling in the difficult weather,” he added.

There will be no Pioneer Valley Transit Authority service Tuesday. Service is planned to be restored on Wednesday.

Amherst College, Mount Holyoke College, Smith College and Hampshire College all announced that they would also close their campuses Tuesday.

According to an email from the University, students will receive an update Tuesday afternoon concerning the status of the campus for Wednesday. For the time being, students can check what buildings are open at www.umass.edu/closing.

Anthony Rentsch can be reached at [email protected]

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