University prepares for winter weather


Mother Nature appears to be bearing down on Harrisonburg and the mid-Atlantic region. Weather forecasts are calling for a significant winter storm this weekend. Current forecasts call for heavy snows beginning Friday afternoon and continuing through Saturday. The university continues to monitor the forecast and make appropriate preparations.  

During this time it may become necessary for the university to communicate with you regarding JMU’s operating status and about situations that may affect your safety. The university will communicate in the following manners: 

  • Our university website will always contain the most accurate and comprehensive information about the university’s operating status, makeup days, and safety information.  
  • Madison Alert Emergency Notification System. JMU’s Madison Alert System employs a number of different methods of communications including text messaging, emails, phone calls, and on-campus loudspeakers and sirens. The system is designed for immediate communication and will often provide you with timely instructions to stay safe in a particular situation. Please ensure that your contact information is up-to-date by visiting MyMadison.  
  • LiveSafe mobile app. Download the LiveSafe mobile app from the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store. The app provides instant access to police dispatchers via phone or text and also provides help tips for many emergency situations.  
  • To use public transportation, be sure to check the city’s website.

While it remains to be seen whether the forecast will actually pan out this weekend, students are encouraged to prepare for a significant disruption to their daily routine. Here are some practical tips for staying safe during winter weather:  

  • Stay informed. Throughout the weather event, monitor weather forecasts and university communication.  
  • Layer up. Dress appropriately for the weather when going outside. Temperatures are expected to be in the 20s over the weekend. Wind will also be a factor. Hypothermia and frostbite are serious conditions and can occur quickly.  
  • Don’t drive. Roads can become hazardous quickly. Few vehicles have the capability of traversing through snow and ice. Attempting to drive puts you and others at risk of serious injury.  
  • For those who live off-campus: Be prepared. Have at least a three-day supply of food and water. Keep extra clothing and blankets on hand in case your heat malfunctions. Check the batteries in your flashlights in case the power goes out.  
  • For those who live on-campus: Keep your RA or HD informed of any difficulties in your residence hall.    
  • Charge your computer, laptop, and cell phone in case there is a loss of power.  
  • Make good decisions. Winter weather can be a fun time. However, participating in risky behaviors can bring that fun to a screeching halt in an instant. Take the appropriate precautions when participating in outdoor activities such as sledding, snowball fights and other outdoor games. Remember, alcohol impairs your judgment and makes you susceptible to the physical effects of winter weather more quickly.  
  • Mind the lake. While Newman Lake may appear to be frozen, chances are it’s not. Please stay off of Newman Lake and other bodies of water. Any ice that has formed on the lake will not support your weight and puts you at risk of hypothermia or worse.  

Dining Services will be open for all those with dining contracts. Check the website for specific locations and times. Before you venture out into the weather, check the appropriate websites to determine what other services/offices are open and the hours of operation during the storm (UREC, University Health Center, University Union, for example).  

JMU’s Facilities Management and Public Safety staff will be working around the clock to keep the campus as safe as possible given the weather conditions. If you encounter a situation that threatens the life or welfare of you or another individual, contact emergency personnel at 568-6911 on campus or 911 off campus. Be safe and be smart!

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Published: Thursday, January 21, 2016

Last Updated: Wednesday, November 1, 2023

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