Snow, low temperatures cause late cancellations



Instead of carrying just the normal backpack across campus Monday afternoon, chemical engineering freshman Nic Johnson was carrying a pair of skis and poles.

Johnson lives in Blanding II on South Campus and said he was in his third hour of classes at about 3:30 p.m. and had been skiing to class all day.

By 10 a.m. Monday, Lexington had received around three inches of fresh powder, and many roads in the downtown area were covered with snow. UK officials decided not to cancel or delay classes and remained on a normal schedule despite the inclement weather.

Johnson said skiing from his dorm to the Chemistry Physics Building, located at 505 Rose St.,  took him about 10 minutes, and he was not worried about the sidewalks scuffing his skis because he was getting a new pair.

“I’m a little pissed that we still had to go to class and every other school was canceled … but it’s understandable,” he said.

Vice President for Public Safety Anthany Beatty said the decision not to cancel classes was made before 6 a.m. when road conditions were not dangerous, but he said weather conditions changed rapidly after 7 a.m. and forced officials to rethink the decision.

At approximately 10 a.m. on Monday, UK removed the banner on its Web site telling students that the university was open and on a regular schedule. Then at approximately 12:30 p.m., UK Alert sent out e-mails, text messages and phone calls stating Monday classes after 5 p.m. were canceled.

“We try to make the best decision for the campus,” Beatty said. “The forces of nature changed very rapidly this morning … It changed so quickly on us that we didn’t have time to delay classes or cancel classes at that time.”

While UK remained open and classes were in session despite heavy snow and high winds, UK spokeswoman Gail Hairston was having no part of it.

Because of the worsening conditions, Hairston said she could not make it to work and decided to work from home.

Wind gusts in the Lexington area were as high as 31 miles per hour, according to the National Weather Service, and light snow was expected to fall in Lexington until around 10 a.m. on Monday. The National Weather Service said the heaviest snow will continue to fall along Interstate 64 and in Northern Kentucky.

Beatty said he makes a recommendation to the executive vice president of the Office of Finance and Administration Frank Butler who makes the final decision on whether to cancel classes.

Beatty said information is gathered on road conditions through the Office of Emergency Management from sources such as the National Weather Service, UK Police, state officials and the UK Physical Plant Division, but reminded everyone to keep personal safety as the top priority.

“We’d ask that everyone use their best judgment on keeping themselves safe,” Beatty said.

If students felt unsafe driving to campus or going to class, Beatty said those cases would have to be handled from an academic standpoint by professors or other academic officials.

Beatty said even if the decision is made to cancel classes and close the university, each campus division would go to a plan-B schedule where essential personnel would still be expected to report to campus.

While many students live on or near campus, other students dealt with the deteriorating conditions during their morning commute.

In an e-mail to the Kernel, UK Parking and Transportation Services spokeswoman Chrissie Balding-Tune said UK Parking lists 3,609 BCTC and UK students as holding commuter parking passes. Students who have commuter passes must have 60 or more credit hours and live more than one mile away from campus.

According to the Kentucky Transportation 511 service, the driving conditions on Monday morning were fair on US 68 (Broadway) and US 27 (Nicholasville Road/Limestone).

Lisa Rogers, a mechanical engineering senior who lives off Tates Creek Road, said her normal drive to school takes about 10 to 15 minutes.

Rogers said the roads were a little slippery and visibility was low early this morning, but she gave the university an “A for effort.”

“They tried to clear the sidewalks off, but they’re still a little slippery,” she said. “It just makes me wonder what they’re going to do tonight since we’re supposed to get hit again.”

Additional accumulations of less than one inch are possible through Tuesday morning, according to the National Weather Service Web site.

Information about class closings and delays is available through the UK Web site, local news stations and UK Alert.

Beatty said UK Alert was the fastest and most efficient way to get emergency information to students.

“I would highly encourage students and staff … to sign up for UK Alert,” he said. “It will get that information to you.”

-Staff reporter Katie Perkowski contributed to this report