The Collegian
Monday, May 16, 2022

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Winter storm Jonas likely to smash Richmond

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Bundle up, Spiders: Meteorologists are predicting Winter Storm Jonas to strike Richmond and across the Atlantic Coast this weekend, and the university has responded by canceling all classes and events scheduled to start at noon or later on Friday through 8 a.m. Sunday.

Central Virginia could receive up to a foot of snow this weekend, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports. This storm will likely cause icy road conditions and other challenges throughout the city.

Though this storm will likely not rival the largest snowstorm in Richmond's history, which produced 21.6 inches over two days in 1940, University of Richmond is still taking precautions against the storm.

Brittany Schaal, the director of emergency management at Richmond, is in charge of preparing, responding, recovering and mitigating any emergencies on campus.

For this storm, Schaal has been diligently watching the weather reports and formulating a plan for how the university will react, she said. She receives weather briefs from the National Weather Center about six times a day.

“Our main goal is to keep students in classrooms,” Schaal said. “Trying to be able to allow students to still follow their normal academic schedule is always top priority.” 

Working with University Facilities, Schaal said she hoped to be able to keep the dining hall, gym and library open in some capacity. Richmond will update the hours services are open on its website.

“Even though you may not have cook-to-order pasta, dining hall staff members will still be there working to have food available to the students,” Schaal said.

Jerry Clemmer, director of residential dining, wrote in an email that many managers and he sleep overnight in their offices.

"Several will stay overnight in the dining hall, some will stay in rooms in houses that the university owns nearby, and some will still drive in," Clemmer said.

The inclement weather and emergencies page on Richmond’s website describes the difference between delays, cancellations and closings of classes, events and activities.

Steve Glass, the landscape manager at Richmond, said Richmond facilities had been ready for this type of weather since November.

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“We develop a snow plan for average difficulty snow,” he said.

Some of the equipment that facilities has available includes several four-wheel drive pickups equipped with snow plows, three salt spreaders and many shovels. There are several different teams of workers for day and night shifts. The day crew arrives on campus as early as 5 a.m. and stays until dinner and night classes are finished.

“Everyone in facilities gets involved in snow removal regardless of what department they are in and depending on how severe the snow is,” Glass said.

Glass said he thought the most difficult parts to maintain in the snow and icy conditions were the steps around campus and the parking lots.

“Even if we put a truck on Boatwright Hill full time to plow it, someone is going to run off the road regardless of what we do,” he said.

Glass recommends students take an alternate route when entering or exiting the campus if there is snow on the ground for safety. Students can use other campus entrances such as College Road near the business school and Campus Drive near the sorority cottages.

“If the worst-case scenario comes up with the snow on Friday and Saturday, we’ll have as many people as we can working on it,” Glass said.

With Richmond students living everywhere from dorms on campus to houses off campus, there are many different challenges they must overcome this weekend.

Junior Kelsey Cahill lives in an off-campus apartment complex. She said she had not received any advice or guidance from the university or her landlord. Cahill is worried that the foul weather boots she ordered will not arrive in time, rendering her ability to walk through the snow, she said.

Junior Yadeni Abagaro also lives in an off-campus house with several other students. They have a few details to finalize before the storm hits. “My roommate’s mom told us we have to go to Lowe’s and buy three high-quality shovels to move the snow,” Abargaro said.

Because her house is not located on a main thoroughfare, she is concerned the city will not plow her street, Abargaro said.

Freshman Courtney Chenault, who lives in an on-campus residence hall, is hopeful classes will be canceled on Monday and Tuesday. Chenault, who is from Richmond, said she enjoyed snow because everything shuts down

The snow is expected to start Friday morning and continue through Saturday afternoon.

Contact reporters Megan Healy and Charlotte Dowell at megan.healy@richmond.edu and charlotte.dowell@richmond.edu

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