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Campus deals with continuing frigid weather

January 28, 2014 By Dennis Chaptman

Photo: students lining up to get free hot cocoa

A steady stream of students come in from the subzero winter weather and clamor for free hot cocoa being offered in the Bascom Hall rotunda Monday.


The prediction that it will be a balmy 24 degrees on Thursday came as cold comfort to more than 60,000 students, faculty and staff who rolled out of bed today to encounter subzero temperatures again.

The icy wave of polar air that turned weather maps colors that we’ve seldom seen before forced the cancellation of morning classes on Tuesday, as safety took precedence on campus.

Classes with start times of noon or later will be held, and instructors not planning to hold afternoon classes were urged to contact students to notify them. The campus remained open for business.

Students and staff, bundled heavily, quickly identified ways to get from Point A to Point B by going through buildings and avoiding wind chills that sometimes dipped below minus 25 degrees.

An additional bus was added to the campus Route 80 on Tuesday to help keep people moving around campus and out of the bitter weather.

Read more information about the cancellation.

For some on campus, the morning away from lectures, labs and frigid walks around campus provided some warm and comfy freedom.

“Thank you, @UWMadison for cancelling class, because in the morning, I’m making waffles!!!,” tweeted one student.

And another, less satisfied student: “Uh so, tomorrow my fav class is before noon and the ones I don’t want to go to are after noon ….” You can’t please all of the people all of the time.

Students, many fresh from a polar walk up Bascom Hill, gathered several deep around a table in the rotunda of Bascom Hall Monday to grab a free hot chocolate offered by the Division of Student Life with catering by University Housing.

Social media was alive with commentary following the university’s announcement that morning classes would be canceled, showing the power of UW–Madison’s social media presence.

The message was retweeted hundreds of times, helping the university spread the word, and was featured prominently on the UW–Madison home page, local media outlets and broadcast through a campuswide email alert.

These cancellations are a relative rarity in winter-hardened Wisconsin.

Although wintry conditions have forced cancellations in recent years mainly for snowstorms, this appears to be the first time the university has closed due to brutally cold temperatures.

Snow and blizzards forced the cancellation of classes in December 2009, February 2011 and December 2012 in the midst of final exams.

There was a late afternoon and evening class cancellation in February 2008, but the last time the university cancelled class before that was on Dec. 3, 1994 after a 17-inch snowstorm.

So, while traversing the tundra of campus today, keep in mind these cold-weather safety tips, and begin the countdown: there are only 50 days until spring.

Read a recent history of weather-related campus closings.