On Tuesday morning, students awoke to eagerly peer out windows, desperately searching for snow. Armed with snow boots, parkas and the promise of six inches, spirits were light and homework was nonexistent.
Winter storm Janus hit the Fredericksburg area around 11 a.m. on Tuesday morning and continued throughout Tuesday evening. According to the National Weather Service, the Fredericksburg area received a little over two inches, a far cry from the rumored six to eight that weather forecasters predicted.
While Tuesday’s snowfall fell short of the 2009-2010 “Snowmageddon,” the winter storm produced some of the most substantial snowfall in the Fredericksburg area since the 54.3 inches that Snowmageddon yielded.
Surrounding Stafford, Spotsylvania and Caroline counties cancelled school on Monday evening, while the University of Mary Washington announced closures and inclement weather preparations early Tuesday morning. As the snow picked up throughout the evening, UMW announced a two-hour delay for Wednesday morning. The school eventually chose to cancel classes for the day, but many commuter students were not pleased with UMW’s initial decision.
“I’m glad that they decided to close instead of just delaying,” said senior historic preservation major Tasha Horton. “Given the large population of commuter students and the state that the roads were in at the time they made their call, I feel like closing should have been their initial choice.”
In the past, the University’s decision to opt for late openings over cancelations have garnered negative responses from commuter students.
“I think its unrealistic to expect students to commute from any distance in conditions already deemed unsafe by local public schools. These calls are made for a reason,” said junior French major Emily Enterline. “If school is left open we must consider grade-affecting absence policies enforced by many professors, making our decision to drive based not on safety as it should be, but rather on the possible academic repercussions of our actions.”
In an email sent to the students Wednesday evening, the university announced the cancelation of classes and cited bad driving conditions as part of the reason.
“Please use extreme caution if you need to move around campus today. The extremely cold weather has made clearing walkways and sidewalks very difficult,” said Vice President for Administration and Finance Richard Pearce in the email sent Wednesday morning.
As UMW did not have classes on Monday due to observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, students were given a five-day weekend and an extremely truncated school week. Some students utilized their time off to catch up on homework, while others enjoyed the snow, including sophomores Lindsey Nebhut and Gloria Kamole who spent their time sledding.
“We made our own sled, and we’ve just been out here sledding,” said Nebhut, geography major. She and Kamole, fashioned their sled out of a trashcan lid and recycling bag and utilized the Marshall hill as their playground.
Other students stayed inside and away from the cold.
“I slept and ate pancakes,” said junior psychology major Peyton Spivey.
According to the NWS, this winter is supposed to be heavy on snowfall. If Tuesday’s storm is any indication of the winter to come, students may find themselves missing a lot of class this semester, or falling prey to weatherman over-reaction.
With the weather forecast not expected to rise above 27 degrees for the remainder of the week, students can look forward to the snow staying around for several days to come.