Saturday, February 24, 2018

Winter Storm Nemo dumps three feet; closes College on Monday

Chloe Miller ’14

News Editor

On Saturday morning, the Trinity campus awoke to a solid three feet of snow blanketing the entire campus, with drifts up to eight feet. The great blizzard of 2013, winter storm Nemo, hit the northeast region on Friday, Feb. 8 and Saturday, Feb.9. Due to excellent forecasting, residents were warned in ample time, and buildings and services shut down throughout Friday afternoon, bracing for the big storm. Massachusetts instituted a highway driving ban, complete with a $500 fine for anyone seen out on the roads after 4 p.m. Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy followed suit by declaring all roads in the state closed until 4 p.m. Saturday. New York and Boston public transportation systems ran extra commuter trains, then closed down early. All major airports in the area were closed by 11 p.m. Friday. 

As wet, windy flurries began swirling the Long Walk by about noon, students rushed home from canceled classes. Raether Library closed at 2:30 p.m., Ferris Athletic Center at 4 p.m., and The Cave Café at 2:30 p.m. A variety of athletic events, such as the men’s and women’s ice hockey games against Colby, were cancelled for Friday evening and rescheduled for Sunday, throwing off subsequent schedules and providing a nightmare for coaches, players, and administrators. Several other competitions were canceled or postponed indefinitely, such as women’s squash at Princeton.

Many faculty cancelled classes in anticipation of worsening conditions throughout the afternoon. Students used their extra free time in the typical fashion—marathon Netflix sessions, hot chocolate creations, and an impressive showing of fashionable outerwear. Campus Safety released a series of emails about storm preparation, including parking regulations, advice for emergencies, and of course the ongoing ban on candle use in the dorms.

By Friday evening, wind speeds had picked up and the campus was engulfed in full-on white-out conditions.  Travel was hazardous and nearly impossible, but that didn’t stop the gleeful student body from braving the snow. Mather trays made their usual appearance on the sledding hill by the chapel, and revelers used the blizzard to spawn several unique party themes to carry them through the worst of Friday night’s storm.

As students waded out the snowed-in doors of residence halls on Saturday morning, they saw a heavily hushed landscape blanketed under at least two feet of dry powder. Buildings and Grounds crews had been working tirelessly and thanklessly since 6 a.m. to clear all major pathways and roads, but the sight of entire parking lots full of invisible cars was quite shocking. Since travel to the ski slopes wasn’t an option, Trinity’s Ski Team tackled the impressive task of building a full-on ski jump at the base of the Chapel hill. Skiers and boarders were decked out in penguin suits, vintage onesies, and aviators as the sun reflected off the blindingly white snow.

Most students spent Saturday reveling in traditional snow day activities, whether indoors or outdoors. Mather was the only dining option open on campus, and due to an all-day schedule and more traffic than usual, pickings were slim by around 4 p.m. Luckily student favorites Campus Pizza and Trinity Restaurant were open for dine-in or pick-up options, so students braved icy streets to gain a little sustenance. However, no amount of Spicy Chicken Gorgonzola Pasta can make up for the dedication of the Chartwell’s employees. Since the Bistro stayed open until 10 p.m. on Friday, employees were unable to leave campus. Despite the option of overnight accommodation at the Smith House, Trinity did not provide any type of housing for employees, as written in a blog post on inthecac.com. When I asked the woman swiping ids in Mather on Saturday morning how she got to work, she said she slept in a Mather booth overnight. Many thanks to the great personal sacrifices that these dedicated employees made so that Trinity students could have fresh-made omelets all day Saturday.

By Sunday morning, most buildings had returned to regular hours and parking lots were starting to clear up as students shoveled out their hibernating cars and got ready for the school week. But an early afternoon email from President Jones announced that the College would remain officially closed on Monday, Feb. 11. All classes were canceled and all “non-essential” employees asked to stay home. Travel conditions were still less than ideal, and a forecast of freezing rain threatened to create dangerously icy conditions. The announcement of a snow day sent many students outside to celebrate once again. The extra hours off are invaluable for the Buildings and Grounds crews who have been working tirelessly to clear paths and roads. Most roads around campus are passable, but visibility and safety are not perfect.

Monday’s warmer temperatures and steady rain made cleanup a little more difficult and a lot more miserable. Many narrow parking lots such as High Rise and Vernon were not plowed well and thick berms blocked in rows of cars. The rain made the existing snow heavier and more difficult to remove. Many students spent hours with shovels and makeshift snow removal devices, while other seemed to take a passive approach, content to let their cars sit until nature did the work.

Hartford public schools remained closed on Monday as well, although Bradley Airport and Amtrak service resumed Sunday morning. This gives city snow removal workers more time and space to effectively clear roads and parking lots. President Obama officially declared a state of emergency in Connecticut, which opens the way for federal aid for snow removal, power restoration, and other damage control. Many secondary roads remained impassable or dangerous, but luckily the ample forewarning and preparations meant this historic blizzard caused minor lasting damage. Most of all it was a somewhat inconvenient excuse to drink hot chocolate and go sledding.

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