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A recent history of weather-related campus cancellations, closings

January 31, 2019

Photo: students in snowball fight

On Feb. 2, 2011, hundreds of students converged on Bascom Hill for a massive snowball fight after classes were canceled due to a major snowstorm.



Editor’s note: This story was originally published Jan. 28, 2014, and was updated to reflect subsequent closures.

Jan. 29-31, 2019 – With wind chills forecast to reach -40 degrees or lower, the university announces a partial closure of campus effective 5 p.m. Jan. 29 through noon Jan. 31, including cancellations of classes.

Jan. 28, 2014 – Due to bitterly cold temperatures, the university cancels morning classes. Campus itself remains open.

Dec. 20, 2012 – In response to heavy snow, campus cancels and reschedules final exams, which was a complicated and difficult task. Problems are exacerbated by Madison Metro’s decision not to resume service on Dec. 21.

Feb. 2, 2011 – Crews dig out from a crippling winter storm that forced cancellation of classes and events on campus Wednesday, Feb. 2. Students again hold a famous snowball fight.

Dec. 9, 2009 – In light of blizzard warnings for Madison and Dane County, Chancellor Biddy Martin canceled classes and asked all non-essential university employees to stay home on Wednesday, Dec. 9. Martin famously announces the snow day through her Twitter account. Madison experiences 12-16 inches; students respond to the snow day with a snowball fight.

Feb. 6, 2008 In light of deteriorating weather and road conditions, UW–Madison cancels all afternoon and evening classes at 3:30 p.m., Provost Patrick Farrell announces.

Dec. 11, 2000 – Wisconsin men’s basketball game against UW-Milwaukee is postponed due to heavy snow and high winds; rescheduled and played on Saturday evening, Dec. 16, at the Kohl Center.

Jan. 18, 1994 – Acting chancellor and interim vice chancellor Richard Barrows announces that Memorial & Steenbock libraries will close early (4:45 p.m.) due to bitterly cold temperatures. (Most UW–Madison libraries closed by 5 p.m. during the winter break, but Memorial and Steenbock were open into the evening hours.)

Dec. 3, 1990 – Heavy snow causes Chancellor Donna Shalala to cancel classes around mid-morning (10:30 a.m.) when streets and highways became nearly impassable. More than 17 inches fall over a 12 to 16-hour period.

Dec. 15, 1987 – Southern Wisconsin is hit by a storm classified as a blizzard, and the university, along with state offices, closes around 2:30 p.m. It had remained open in the morning, with classes and final exams going on as scheduled.

January 26, 1978 — The Governor’s Office issues an order to cancel classes due to a snowstorm that brings a half-foot of snow and 40-mile-per-hour wind gusts to southern Wisconsin. The chancellor’s office is notified of the order at 10 a.m., but it takes until 2:30 p.m. for it to become official. Many students show up for classes in the morning, but many faculty members do not. Emergency shelters are set up around the city for those who were stranded by the storm. The Memorial Union is prepared to say open for students who can’t get home, but, in the end, it isn’t necessary, due to the snow stopping early in the evening.

March 17, 1965 – St. Patrick’s Day classes canceled due to a major snowstorm, started as freezing rain, followed by 6.9 inches.

Tags: weather