BY: JACOB BLAIR
Eastern students awoke last Friday to attend classes when nearby school districts such as Madison County, Estill County and the university’s branch campuses in Corbin and Manchester were closed for the day.
The storm system causing the cancellations was predicted a week prior to the rain and snowfall on Friday. It allowed Facilities Services to plan out what needed to be done to accommodate to the inclement weather. However, even with preparations made by Facilities Services, the morning walk to class by commuters and residents alike was treacherous in some spots.
Rich Middleton, director of Facilities Services, said crews were called in at 5 a.m. on Friday in preparation for the slickness. Despite the early preparation, some of the campus, sidewalks were still icy at 11 a.m.
Middleton said the low temperatures on days prior to Friday’s snowfall might have contributed to the icy conditions.
“We had so, so cold temperatures in the days leading up to this event that the moisture turned to ice upon contact, and it’s a lot more difficult to get that out of the way than a fluffy snow,” Middleton said.
To help alleviate some of the issue for students, Middleton said rocks and gravel were used on Park Drive to aid with icy conditions. The areas around buildings on campus were being cleared as soon as the snowfall stopped.
Because of the work by all the employees of Facilities Services, Middleton estimated that the campus was roughly 75 percent clear by noon.
Many solutions for treating icy roads and sidewalks don’t work well when snow or ice is followed by rainy conditions.
Middleton said when there is a rain forecast prior to a snow or ice event, there is not much you can do other than put rocks and gravel down in some of the more dangerous places and wait for the rain to subside. After the weather has calmed down, then the workers can get out and start treating it.
“If it rains, we have to wait until it turns to ice and start with calcium chloride and brine at that time,” Middleton said.
Here at Eastern, Facilities Services has different ways to remove snow, including chemicals, ice melt and rock salt.
Middleton advised students to use their personal judgments when deciding whether to travel to or on campus.
“If students are not comfortable in driving to campus or negotiating the campus on foot, they have to make the decision of going to class themselves,” Middleton said.