Campus Witnesses 'Snowpocalypse'
BY BRYNN BOYER AND ANNE ELDER
Last weekend, a winter storm dumped over two feet of snow on the Capital region, with Fredericksburg as no exception. The blizzard meant hazardous roads for drivers, power outages for thousands and class cancellations for students.
Another storm passed through Fredericksburg on Tuesday and Wednesday, adding another several inches of snow and keeping students out of class. As of press time on Wednesday, the university had been closed for three days and night events were canceled due to the two storms. The university was scheduled to open at 11 a.m. today.
Late last Thursday night, Feb. 4, Residence Life sent an e-mail to all students warning about the potential for dangerous weather and significant snowfall, urging them to prepare for the storm.
The snow started around mid-day on Friday, Feb. 5 and continued steadily through Saturday night. The University of Mary Washington closed at 10 a.m. on Friday as a precautionary measure.
By Saturday morning, conditions on-campus had deteriorated quickly. The blizzard knocked out power in some buildings across campus, including in Randolph Hall and Bushnell Hall.
The National Weather Service, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, defines a blizzard as sustained wind or frequent gusts to 35 miles an hour or greater and considerable falling and/or blowing snow for a period of three hours or longer.
Around noon on Saturday, an ambulance arrived at Russell Hall to attend to a woman who had been working on clearing the walkways near the residence hall.
When the Fredericksburg Volunteer Rescue squad arrived, the woman was under a fallen tree, according to Natatia Bledsoe, public information officer of the Fredericksburg Police Department .
“She heard the tree falling and dove to the ground immediately next to a three-foot brick wall, which broke the fall of the tree and prevented it from crushing her,” Bledsoe said.
Bledsoe said the woman was not hurt.
“She was removed and transported to the hospital as a precautionary measure,” Bledsoe said.
Following the Russell Hall incident, an alert was sent by Ruth Lovelace, director of emergency management and safety, through Alert UMW to warn students of the outside conditions.
In the text message and corresponding e-mail, students were warned of icy conditions outside and urged to stay inside until the weather improved.
After dealing with the effects of the snowfall for almost a week, some students had mixed feelings about the weather.
“I’m excited we’ve been getting off school,” freshmen Kate Gibson, who lives in Russell Hall, said. “However, a tree is blocking the entrance [to Russell] and they haven’t done anything about it. That’s really annoying.”
Her roommate, Anna Lee, agreed.
“It was nice to have a break on Friday but by Monday, I was kind of bored,” Lee said.
Gibson and Lee built an igloo in Ball Circle.
Seniors Kevin Morris and Caitlin Carter said they enjoyed their days off.
“We took a sled and hooked it up to my mountain bike,” Morris said. “We sledded around campus.”
While some students played in the snow, others used the storm as a fundraising opportunity.
Senior Emerson Ayestas made a Facebook event called “I’LL REMOVE THE SNOW OFF YOUR CAR” on Saturday. He said he and other students would shovel out cars and driveways for donations to Students Helping Honduras.
On Sunday and Monday, SHH volunteers shoveled out around 10 cars and three houses, Ayestas said, raising over $200 for an education center in Honduras.
“I like the snow, but I don’t know about everyone else,” sophomore Michael Behrens said as he shoveled snow from around a car on Monday with fellow volunteers Ayestas, sophomore Katie Yudkin and junior Beth Haver.
The group worked for about six hours on Sunday, using borrowed shovels and spades to dig out students’ cars.
“This was more of a last-minute thing,” Yudkin said of the fundraising idea. “We don’t have a specific monetary goal. We’re just trying to take advantage of the snow.
The university was closed on Monday, but re-opened Tuesday morning, despite icy conditions on-campus. Trees that fell during the storm remained along College Avenue and Campus Walk.
However, evening events and classes were cancelled beginning at 6 p.m. Tuesday, due to a winter storm warning.
“The administration put themselves in a bad situation,” Morris said regarding school re-opening Tuesday.
Carter said that although she was disappointed about the university’s decision, she was not surprised.
The winter weather caused groups to change many events on campus scheduled for last weekend.
The special election for the Judicial Review Board was postponed to tomorrow, Feb. 12 outside the Eagle’s Nest.
The Office of Student Activities and Community Services postponed the Elby Brass and Safetysuit concerts scheduled for last Friday night. Safetysuit is now scheduled to perform on March 19 and the Elby Brass concert has been postponed to a later date.
The National Weather Service issued another winter storm warning Tuesday, expecting an accumulation of seven to 14 inches across the region.
The university was closed on Wednesday because of the additional accumulation. Many students ventured outside on their day off to sled, build igloos and snowmen and have snowball fights.
“As long as the the roads are clear by the weekend, I’m ok with [the snow],” Lee said.