13:54 PM

Frigid forecast has university on alert

Bundle up. The National Weather Service office in Wilmington, Ohio, is forecasting the coldest weather of the season Wednesday into Thursday.

So what does it mean for the Columbus or regional campuses at The Ohio State University? The answer isn’t as simple as a number.

Closings are rare. The Columbus campus has closed or canceled classes a total of 13 days since 1978, when Ohio was walloped by the worst blizzard in recorded history – a storm that included heavy snow, freezing rain and record winds.

The decision to close either the Columbus or regional campuses or cancel classes due to severe weather is made using guidelines that are, by design, very flexible. There is no absolute temperature, snowfall amount or other specific hazard that will automatically determine a closure.

Instead, university leadership consults with medical experts, the Office of Student Life’s Student Health Services, the Department of Public Safety and other groups from around the university that provide information and recommendations. University officials also monitor the latest forecasts from the NWS.

The safety of students, faculty and staff is the university’s top priority. The obligation to provide the full measure of instruction to tuition-paying students is also a critical factor.

According to the NWS, parts of Ohio could see wind chill temperatures of 41 degrees below zero. Columbus could see 23 degrees below zero. This cold weather is expected at times Wednesday into early Thursday, with the highest impact period likely being Wednesday morning and afternoon.

Please remember to take precautions while traveling in winter weather and check your scheduled activities to be sure there are no changes or cancellations. Please follow @OSU_EMFP on Twitter or check emergency.osu.edu for any updates.

Before snow and ice start to collect, the university treats campus roadways and sidewalks. Staff remain on campus throughout the day and night treating and plowing, as needed.

Students, faculty and staff can monitor the current campus conditions online. The website includes a live weather camera, updated weather conditions and current forecasts.