With its comically extreme weather patterns, it comes as little surprise that winters in Oklahoma are hard to predict. However, since class has resumed we should do what we can to stay warm and safe while the weather outside is frightful.
Meteorologists have shared varied predictions for winter 2017. Ari Sarsalari from The Weather Channel briefly explained the highlights of the National Weather Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s’ winter predictions. Sarsalari said there will likely be “some below average precipitation in the south,” with a map that included Oklahoma and that “the central and southern part of the country will likely see above average temperatures.”
The research indicates that these weather patterns are likely due to La Niña patterns across the Pacific Ocean. However, meteorologist Dave Murray from Fox News St. Louis suggested that, “La Niña is not a player in January.” Instead, “A large area of warm water off the northwest coast into the Gulf of Alaska … will result in a large ridge over the western United States and create a major dip in the jet stream over the eastern two thirds of the nation.”
“This will open the door to arctic air and get winter going and going quickly in the month of January,” Murray said. “January looks cold from start to finish and may end up being a rather extreme month for cold weather.”
Murray agreed with NOAA’s prediction that it would likely be a dry month.
TU is prepared to handle adverse winter weather. President Clancy is responsible for closing campus in the event of dangerous weather and has said, “If there’s any reason to believe that a significant number of students, faculty and staff face a threat to their safety, administrators would close campus. This could include widespread ice, heavy snow, tornado activity or other severe weather conditions that pose serious safety concerns.”
Historically the longest known campus closing was four days during a blizzard in 2011.
Extreme weather isn’t the only factor considered when deciding to cancel classes. Clancy said, “Safety is always our priority. Classes could be canceled in response to a credible threat of violence, a natural disaster or an accident such as a severed gas line that poses health risks.”
In order for you to stay safe and warm this winter, here are some important tips for your on-campus apartment, your car and you as you walk to class.
If you live in an apartment on campus, remember that you need to keep the internal temperature above 55 degrees Fahrenheit in order to keep water pipes from freezing and bursting. If you notice that the heat isn’t working properly you can put in an emergency maintenance request through CaneLink. Also, remember not to be tempted to stay warm by using space heaters or candles, both are fire hazards and can incur serious fines from the housing department.
If you will be commuting in the cold weather, the CDC recommends servicing the radiator and maintaining the antifreeze levels in your car as well as checking the tire tread or, if necessary, replacing tires with all-weather or snow tires. It’s also a good idea to keep the gas tank full to avoid ice in the tank and fuel lines and use a wintertime formula in your windshield washer. In addition you should prepare a winter emergency kit to keep in your car in case you, well, you know, have a winter emergency. The kit should include: a cell phone, portable charger and extra batteries; blankets; food and water; booster cables, flares, tire pump and a bag of sand or cat litter (for traction); a compass and maps; flashlight, battery-powered radio and extra batteries; first-aid kit; and plastic bags (for sanitation).
While walking to class there are other ways to stay safe. TU’s tireless grounds crew does a good job of maintaining the walkways, but regardless, you should make sure you wear shoes with good treading so you are less likely to slip on icy patches. Be sure to bundle up, and protect your extremities from prolonged exposure to the cold.