95.21 - University Closures

October 1, 2013

A. General. In the event of a reported emergency or a weather-related emergency, or if an emergency situation appears imminent, the Executive Director of Public Safety or designee, may make a recommendation to the President or designated senior officer for taking the appropriate action. The action could include the cancellation of classes and/or the closure of a University facility, site or campus. [rev. 10-13]

B. Definitions. NOAA's National Weather Service urges individuals to keep abreast of local forecasts and warnings and familiarize themselves with key weather terminology. [B add. 10-13]

B-1.  Blizzard Warning: Issued for sustained or gusty winds of 35 mph or more, and falling or blowing snow creating visibilities at or below ¼ mile; these conditions should persist for at least three hours.

B-2.  Blowing Snow: wind-driven snow that reduces visibility and causes significant drifting. Blowing snow may be snow that is falling and/or loose snow on the ground picked up by the wind.

B-3.  Dense Fog Advisory: Issued when fog will reduce visibility to ¼ mile or less over a widespread area.

B-4.  Freezing Rain: rain that falls onto a surface with a temperature below freezing. This causes it to freeze to surfaces, such as trees, cars, and roads, forming a coating or glaze of ice. Even small accumulations of ice can cause a significant hazard.

B-5.  Sleet: Rain drops that freeze into ice pellets before reaching the ground. Sleet usually bounces when hitting a surface and does not stick to objects. However, it can accumulate like snow and cause a hazard to motorists.

B-6.  Snow Flurries: Light snow falling for short durations. No accumulation or light dusting is all that is expected.

B-7.  Snow Showers: Snow falling at varying intensities for brief periods of time. Some accumulation is possible.

B-8.  Snow Squalls: Brief, intense snow showers accompanied by strong, gusty winds. Accumulation may be significant.

B-9.  Wind Chill Advisory: Issued when wind chill temperatures are expected to be a significant inconvenience to life with prolonged exposure, and, if caution is not exercised, could lead to hazardous exposure.

B-10.  Wind Chill Warning: Issued when wind chill temperatures are expected to be hazardous to life within several minutes of exposure.

B-11.  Winter Storm Outlook: Issued prior to a Winter Storm Watch. The Outlook is given when forecasters believe winter storm conditions are possible and are usually issued 3 to 5 days in advance of a winter storm.

B-12.  Winter Storm Warning: Issued when hazardous winter weather in the form of heavy snow, heavy freezing rain, or heavy sleet is imminent or occurring. Winter Storm Warnings are usually issued 12 to 24 hours before the event is expected to begin.

B-13.  Winter Storm Watch: Alerts the public to the possibility of a blizzard, heavy snow, heavy freezing rain, or heavy sleet. Winter Storm Watches are usually issued 12 to 48 hours before the beginning of a Winter Storm.

B-14.  Winter Weather Advisories: Issued for accumulations of snow, freezing rain, freezing drizzle, and sleet which will cause significant inconveniences and, if caution is not exercised, could lead to life-threatening situations.

C.  Procedures.  [ren. 10-13]

C-1.  Cancellations and Closures:

(a) Authority. When conditions necessitate, UI facilities may be ordered closed or their opening may be delayed for a period of time. The decision to close or delay opening a UI facility is at the discretion of the president of the University or the president’s designee.

i) In the event the president is not available to make a decision regarding closure, the authority lies with the provost. [ed. 12-10]
ii) In the event neither the president nor the provost is available to make a decision regarding closure, the authority lies with the vice president of finance and administration. [ed. 12-10]

(b)  President’s Determination. It is the president’s responsibility to determine whether to close any or all facilities at locations around the State. The president may delegate his authority to close, cancel classes, or postpone the opening of an Outreach Center to the dean of the Outreach Center.

(c) Supervisor Jurisdiction. Individual units do not have independent authority to make decisions concerning University closures, postponements and/or cancellations; however, supervisors do have the authority to approve requests from employees who wish early release from work due to severe weather conditions. (See FSH 3470[ed. 10-13]

(d) Administrative Leave with Pay.  When the president or designee makes a decision to close, cancel classes, or postpone the opening the university, employees will be authorized Administrative Leave with pay.  When approved, employees will enter hours as follows for emergency closure days: [add. 10-13]

Classified and PERSI eligible TH will enter the hours they would have worked.  Exempt and faculty enter leave if leave taken is more than 4 hours and will record leave only if they were out more than 4 hours.

(i) (TH) Temporary Help (PERSI Eligible only) – enter hours regularly scheduled but not worked due to the closure under the Administrative Leave code, up to 8 hours
(ii) Classified – enter hours not worked due to closure under the Administrative Leave code, up to 8 hours
(iii) Exempt & Faculty – enter hours not worked, if over 4, due to closure under the Administrative Leave code, up to 8 hours.

C-2.  Consideration of Conditions: [add. 10-13]

(a) The Director, Emergency Management & Security Services participates in the National Weather Service (NWS) Spokane Weekly Weather Briefing every Monday afternoon (except on US Government holidays). If significant weather is forecast, then additional briefings may be scheduled by the NWS. The NWS office in Spokane serves Latah County and seven others in North Idaho. The UI Department of Emergency Management works closely with Latah County Disaster Services, the Idaho State Bureau of Homeland Security Field Representative for Latah County. The EMSS Office has communication with Whitman County, Washington and WSU as well.

(b) A decision to close the University may be based on weather information gathered from the NWS Weekly Briefings including official weather reports and forecasts and decisions from County, Regional, and State agencies, the North Latah County Highway District, Moscow Police and Latah County Sheriff’s Departments surrounding the main campus, the City of Moscow, and consultation with UI Public Safety and facilities offices. In most cases, the University will not close for winter conditions unless there is a Level 1 emergency.

(c) Below are the winter weather conditions classified by the UI Public Safety & Security Department, based on NOAA’s National Weather Service:

(i) Level 3 - Winter Storm Watch.  Alerts the public to the possibility of a blizzard, heavy snow, heavy freezing rain, or heavy sleet. Winter Storm Watches are usually issued 12 to 48 hours before the beginning of a Winter Storm.

(ii) Level 2 - Winter Storm Warning.  Issued when hazardous winter weather in the form of heavy snow, heavy freezing rain, or heavy sleet is imminent or occurring. Winter Storm Warnings are usually issued 12 to 24 hours before the event is expected to begin. 

(iii) Level 1 - Winter Storm Advisory.  Issued for accumulations of snow, freezing rain, freezing drizzle, and sleet which will cause significant inconveniences and, if caution is not exercised, could lead to life-threatening situations.

(d) If a level 1 emergency is not declared, additional factors that will enter into the decision to close the University are: hazardous road conditions; the presence of ice, snow, or both; amount of wind; presence of daylight; the weather forecast; severe cold; and, consultation with the UI Public Safety Department and the County and Regional partner agencies.

C-3.  Alerts and Notifications:  [add. 10-13]

(a)  In the event of severe weather, the President’s or designee’s decision to close the University faculty, staff, and students will be sent an email announcement, phone, and/or text message sent to subscribers of Vandal Alert (emergency alert system), and information related to the emergency will be posted on the University website.  The status will also be included on the UI Emergency Updates line (208) 885-1010.

(b)  UI Public Safety & Security will notify Communications and Marketing, which will notify the media. Efforts will be made to notify media outlets, send email, and post web announcements and text-messages by 6:30 a.m. on the day of closing. In the event of an evening closure, Communications and Marketing will attempt to notify the campus and the media by 4:00 p.m.

(c)  All University community members are encouraged to call the UI Emergency Updates number (208-885-1010) to confirm whether the University is closed or open. Employees and students should verify media announcements by consulting multiple official sources.

(d) If the University is open but an individual faculty member cancels class, the faculty member will make a reasonable effort to notify students enrolled in the class. All departments are encouraged to create and follow their own telephone contact trees in the event of a cancellation or closure.

D.  Contact Information:

The Office of Public Safety and Security
875 Perimeter Drive, MS 2281
Moscow, ID  83844-2281
208-885-2254
Fax:  208-885-7001
campus-security@uidaho.edu