The three state universities are canceling classes for Wednesday, while Iowa State University canceled classes today and the University of Iowa and University of Northern Iowa are shutting down their campuses tonight in anticipation of the bitterly cold temperatures.
Iowa State University police chief Michael Newton usually gets up early and reviews several factors in determining what the Ames school will do for weather delays. “We end up looking at road closure conditions. We look at other public safety measures — like are all the bus systems running, and then based on all the information we gather, I give a recommendation to the senior vice president, who then talks with the president and provost to make a final decision on closure,” Newton says.
That is how things are done for winter storms that are predicted to blow in. Newton says the wind chill is something really different. “Yeah, it’s really tough, right now when it’s clear skies and sunny out and people are kind of wondering,” Newton says, “but as you look at the factors of within five to ten minutes under warning conditions, people can get frost bite. We definitely have to air on the side of cold temperatures.”
Newton says the campus is always busy and having people moving around in the bitter cold could lead to problems. “If people have long walks from the parking lot, or if their cars were to die and we don’t get there in a reasonably fast time — hypothermia could set in really rapidly in these temperatures,” according to Newton. He says they are working with the college students on campus — so if any of them get cabin fever — they know the dangers of being outside. Newton says they’ve been sending out reminders on the appropriate attire and are keeping their Safe Ride services running tonight as some people still need to get out.
An ISU spokesperson says they have not shut down the campus for weather since 2014.