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February 18, 2010

Historic snowfall:

Northern regionals deprived

upj icicles_Knipple

"Gargantuan" icicles, such as these on Blackington Hall, are a growing problem at Pitt-Johnstown.

For once, Pitt’s northernmost campuses in Bradford and Titusville aren’t as snow-covered as the rest of the University.

The Feb. 5 storm that dumped nearly two feet of snow on Pittsburgh bypassed UPB. While the other Pitt campuses closed at various times, UPB remained open.

However, the notice on the portal announcing the Pittsburgh campus closure last week caused some confusion.

On each of the three days the Pittsburgh campus was closed, the UPB switchboard fielded 15-20 calls asking whether Pitt-Bradford was closed as well. To assure the UPB community that their campus indeed was open and running on schedule, campus administrators emailed students and posted a notice on Facebook and the UPB home page.

Only about four inches of snow is on the ground in Bradford this week, according to campus spokespersons.

The Titusville campus wasn’t hit by the initial storm, receiving only about three inches the night of Feb. 5, but got nearly a foot of snow on Feb. 11, setting maintenance crews into nonstop mode and prompting administrators there to close the campus at 2 p.m.

By the following day, it was back to business as usual, said campus spokesperson Tammy Knapp. UPT received about two inches of snow last night, but maintenance crews quickly cleared the campus.

Since the beginning of February, south of Route 80 uncharacteristically has been Pennsylvania’s winter wonderland this year.

During the past two weeks, Pitt-Greensburg received two-three feet of snow. Back-to-back storms, which resulted in record-setting snowfalls and a state of emergency issued by the state of Pennsylvania, forced the campus to close Feb. 9-11. Campus spokesperson Susan Isola commended UPG’s plant maintenance department, safety and security staff, residence life and Chartwells Dining Service staff for keeping resident students safe, warm and fed. Normal operations were resumed Friday, Feb. 12.

Pitt-Johnstown received about 30 inches of snow during the Feb. 5 storm, then got another 10 inches last week, said campus spokesperson Bob Knipple. The campus was closed Feb. 10 and had a two-hour delay for students Feb. 11, he said.

“We’re used to getting snow; we’re not used to getting 30 inches in 8-12 hours,” he said, commending the campus grounds crew for their efforts to keep the campus lots and walkways clear.

Knipple said UPJ’s trucks equipped with plow blades weren’t up to the challenge of removing the heavy snow from parking lots, so contractors with loaders were called in to assist.

Blizzard conditions with four-foot drifts and equipment breakdowns attributed to constant use over the past two weeks complicated matters, he said.

Ice also is a factor at UPJ. “We have some gargantuan icicles,” but fortunately not in locations where they pose a danger, Knipple said.

—Kimberly K. Barlow

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