By Robert Armstrong, Director, Emergency Management, The Ohio State University
A powerful winter storm is forecasted to impact Ohio and the campuses of The Ohio State University over the next 48 hours. In addition to a mix of rain, sleet and ice, some of the regional campuses could see between 9 and 10 inches of snow.
According to the National Weather Service, all campuses will experience heavy rain today with up to 1 inch of rain possible for the region. A winter storm warning is in effect this afternoon through Friday morning. On Thursday, wind gusts across the state could reach 35 miles per hour, resulting in low visibility at times and cold wind chill temperatures.Snow and ice forecast. National Weather Service.
For the Columbus and Newark campuses, the heavy rain will turn to a rain and sleet mix around 2 a.m. Thursday. This will continue until 4 a.m., when it will turn to mostly sleet. The mix of rain, sleet, ice and snow is expected to continue and, as temperatures drop, the precipitation is expected to become all snow by Thursday evening. Snow will continue into Friday morning with a total of a quarter inch of ice and 3 to 4 inches of snow expected.
Snow will begin this evening and continue through Thursday evening in Lima. The Lima campus is expected to see between 3 and 5 inches of snow during the day and an additional 3 to 6 inches of snow by Friday morning for totals that could exceed 10 inches.
In Mansfield, rain will turn to snow around 11 tonight. Overnight, the campus area is expected to see up to 3 inches of new snow accumulation. During the day on Thursday and into Thursday evening, another 5 to 8 inches of snow will fall for a total of about 9 inches of snow.
The Marion campus will see a similar pattern with rain turning into all snow tonight. New snow accumulation overnight is expected to be 2 to 3 inches and will continue into the early morning hours on Friday. A total of 8 to 9 inches of new snow accumulation is expected.
Rain will turn to snow around 1 a.m. Thursday in the Wooster campus area. New snow accumulation by daybreak will be an inch or two. Throughout the day and into Thursday evening snow will continue to fall, with a total accumulation of about 6 to 8 inches.
What to know
Students, faculty and staff should remain alert to schedule changes or cancellations.
The Columbus campus has closed or canceled classes a total of 18 days since 1978. The most recent cancellation was in February 2021, but online classes continued.
The decision to close either the Columbus or regional campuses or cancel classes due to severe weather is made using guidelines that are, by design, very flexible. There is no absolute temperature, snowfall amount or other specific hazard that will automatically determine a closure.
Instead, university leadership consults with medical experts, the Office of Student Life’s Student Health Services, the Department of Public Safety and other groups from around the university that provide information and recommendations. University officials also monitor the latest forecasts from the weather service.
The safety of students, faculty and staff is the university’s top priority. The obligation to provide the full measure of instruction to tuition-paying students is also a critical factor.
Before snow and ice start to collect, the university treats campus roadways and sidewalks. Staff remain on campus throughout the day and night treating and plowing, as needed. The 130 miles of sidewalk and 40 miles of campus roads take between six and eight hours to clear one time, and facilities crew members will do their best to keep pathways clear.
However, with significant snow amounts please exercise patience as roads and sidewalks will be covered even when crews are actively working. Plan ahead and allow extra time or avoid travel, when possible.
Students, faculty and staff can monitor the current campus conditions online. The website includes a live weather camera, updated weather conditions and current forecasts.