Jan. 17-30, 2003
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Study: Local governments may face tougher times

Music Ph.D. program receives loud applause
Changing water ways
McKenzie helping employees deal with life’s bumps
State climatologist predicts stormy winter
Russian musicians to play
Civil rights activist to speak on Martin Luther King’s legacy Jan. 27
What’s at stake for U.Va.?
State climatologist predicts stormy winter
January snowfall
Photo by Chris Myers
The Grounds were covered with a blanket of white in an early January snowfall. To find out the latest about U.Va.’s work and class schedules in the event of inclement weather, call 924-SNOW or 243-SNOW, or visit U.Va.’s Top News Web site at www.virginia.edu/topnews.

By Anne Bromley

We live in an “icy window” when it comes to winter forecasting, said State Climatologist Patrick J. Michaels.

The proximity of the Appalachian Mountains makes it more difficult to “see” what weather actually will develop in Central Virginia, he said. Although computer modeling has improved forecasting — for up to five days pretty reliably, he said — it tends to switch snow to rain when there might be any of four possibilities: rain, sleet, freezing rain or snow.

So far this season, the weather systems have been running colder than the computer model has projected, he said.

Snow and inclement weather policies

• The main objective is to keep the University open and functioning on a regular schedule. Many operations must be maintained regardless of weather conditions — the Medical Center, police, heating plant, dining and some research activities, for example.

• Leonard W. Sandridge and his staff, in the Office of the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, makes decisions on shift modifications and closings. Vice presidents, deans, directors, faculty members or other employees are not authorized to make changes in the University’s academic or work schedule due to inclement weather. Representatives of schools and departments who want to cancel or alter schedules for school- or department-based events should contact Sandridge’s office directly at 924-3252.

• Supervisors should be flexible in granting appropriate leave to those who feel unsafe driving to work in bad weather. U.Va. employees come from a wide geographic area; conditions can vary over the region. Be aware of child-care and family problems that result from school closings and other weather-related changes.

If there’s snow, how to know whether to go to work

Announcements are made on regional radio and television stations whenever it is necessary to modify a work schedule, authorize a grace period because of transportation problems or adjust the Medical Center’s delivery of outpatient services. U.Va. officials try to make these decisions at least 21/2 hours before the first, second and third shifts at 8 a.m., 3:30 p.m. and 11 p.m.

In addition, the information is available on the University’s inclement weather information telephone lines: 924-SNOW or 243-SNOW.

For updates, also see the Top News Web site at www.virginia.

“It appears we’ll have a very stormy winter, the stormiest since 1996,” predicted Michaels, a research associate professor in environmental sciences. That year, 21 inches fell Jan. 7 and 8, with another 6 inches on Jan. 12, prompting officials to close the University those three days, although classes were not in session at the time.

The State Climatology Office stays in close communication with U.Va. so decisions can be made and workers can get ready.

Michaels will “tell us what time to get people in before a storm hits, and he’s usually right,” said Rich Hopkins, Facilities Management snow control supervisor.

Michaels also gives information to the office of Leonard W. Sandridge, executive vice president and chief operating officer, when he and his staff are considering whether to grant a grace period for travel or to close the University.

Facilities Management crews keep U.Va. open by distributing 100 tons of salt and sand, plus two tons of calcium chloride to de-ice entrances, steps and roads around Grounds. Those amounts are enough to respond to one medium-sized snowstorm, Hopkins said, and then they need to be reordered. Facilities Management has a state contract for the materials “with a higher limit than we ever hope to use,” he said.

Hopkins asked that employees bear with workers as they clear snow. We’re out there trying to make the University as safe as best we can.”

But the advice he really wishes more people would follow is, “Wear boots!”


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