Weekly Features


IUPUI gets ready for weather woes

December 8, 2015

Snowplows are vital for IUPUI in winter

Keeping IUPUI streets and parking lots clear can be a major challenge when winter storms arrive. | IU COMMUNICATIONS

Winter is coming to Central Indiana, and that means it's time to brace for the impact of unpleasant weather. So how does IUPUI prepare to deal with cold-weather challenges?

According to Ryan Chandler of IU Emergency Management and Continuity, it takes a team approach.

During potential weather situations, IUEMC, Campus Facility Services and the IU Police Department monitor forecasts for winter storms that may be approaching the city, checking for watches, warnings or advisories that might affect the Indianapolis area.

Snowy sidewalks

Clearing streets and alleys of snow is important during winter weather, but it is also vital to give campus pedestrians room to walk safely on IUPUI sidewalks. | IU COMMUNICATIONS

Chandler outlined the definitions used by the National Weather Service for winter-weather alerts:

  • Winter storm watch: Potential for heavy snow or significant ice accumulations, usually 24 to 36 hours in advance.
  • Winter storm warning: A storm is producing or is forecast to produce heavy snow or significant ice accumulations.
  • Wind chill warning: The wind chill is life-threatening.

He listed several factors that IUPUI considers before canceling classes or closing the campus: snow and ice accumulations; wind chills; travel advisories or restrictions; the ability of campus work crews to keep streets, parking lots, sidewalks and other common areas clear enough to allow safe passing; and the availability of shuttle systems, tunnels and pedestrian walkways connecting buildings on campus.

Chandler said several groups play a part in IUPUI’s decision-making process. IUEMC, CFS and the police department develop status reports. Leaders from those three groups join peers from public and governmental relations and from finance and administration in a conference call to determine the best plan and provide consensus to advise the chancellor. The chancellor makes the final decision on campus operations, including canceling classes or closing the campus, if necessary.

One key consideration, Chandler said: People live on campus, and the presence of those residents and other essential support personnel for clinical and research operations means IUPUI cannot completely close the campus.

If a change to campus operations is needed, an IU Notify message will disseminate the appropriate information. All employees, faculty and students should monitor IUPUI’s status on the campus website. Subsequent IU Notify messages will provide updates as they occur, including plans to reopen the campus.

Tips for campus residents

Students who live on campus can help keep their buildings safe and warm, says Josh Skillman, the associate director of Housing and Residence Life. His tips:

  • Close windows before leaving for weekends or breaks, and leave them closed during winter months to reduce the possibility of frozen water lines.
  • Students with individualized room-temperature control are asked to set thermostats no lower than 68 degrees, also to reduce the potential of frozen pipes.
  • If a resident's heat stops working, they should report it immediately, either to the main office during business hours or to the resident assistant outside of those hours, including weekends.

IUPUI Food Services adapts to winter as well, tweaking the menu to appeal to cold-weather sensibilities. Aaron Fields, the business development director for the Office of Auxiliary Services, says changes include the following: 

  • More soups. "Our soup production at the Tower triples in winter," Fields said.
  • More hot chocolate: "We go through double the amount of hot chocolate as we normally do." 
  • More comfort foods.

Battling winter a challenge

According to Jeff Plawecki and Steve Stringer of CFS, the fight against "old man winter" is a challenge. The campus relies on teams and a plan as listed in the infographic below.

Plawecki and Stringer invited campuswide support to help overcome weather problems. "Phone the CFS Call Center at 278-1900 to report hazardous winter weather conditions on campus streets, sidewalks, parking lots and garages," Plawecki said. He also asked that people involved in traffic accidents report them to the IU Police Department at 274-7911.

Winter preparation infographic

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