According to Punxsutawney Phil, spring is coming early this year, but based on the snow blanketing campus, spring is still far away. When the groundhog did not see his shadow on Feb. 2 and predicted an early spring, the Northwestern campus was being covered in snow brought on by a blizzard. Classes and food services other than the cafeteria were cancelled for the safety of students, faculty and staff.
“Good one, groundhog,” junior nursing major Katie Thomson said.
Walking around on campus has enabled students to experience slippery sidewalks, inches upon inches of snow and bitter wind.
“I’ve learned layers are important,” Kyle Corbett, a freshman business major, said.
From Corona, California, Corbett is learning how to deal with a Midwest winter for the first time.
“You live in the upper Midwest so ice is going to be here. It will be here until spring arrives,” said Chad Miller, director of environmental health and lab coordinator.
With ice and snow still lingering around campus, dressing appropriately for the weather is key. Miller pointed out that dressing for the cold weather is generally common sense, but he emphasized the need to wear layers, hats and gloves.
“Mittens will keep your hands warmer than gloves because your fingers stay together and they touch each other,” Miller said.
While frostbite is generally not a threat on campus when walking from building to building, Miller still emphasized the need to keep ears, noses, cheeks and extremities covered.
“If you’re going to a certain building or class, go straight there,” Corbett said. “I walk through VPH a lot.”
While the walks to classes are relatively short, it is still important to do what you can to stay warm. Miller believes that staying out of the wind is the best way to avoid the dangers of the cold.
“I like it when it snows and I’m still inside the building,” Thompson said.
Thomson has grown up with snow but said that she preferred the snow when she was younger.
“I definitely liked it more when I was little and I could go play in it with snow pants,” Thompson said.
The walk to classes or different buildings on campus has become an adventure for students and a form of entertainment for those watching safely from indoors. The ice, covered by a layer of snow, is slippery. Students walk slower and take smaller steps in an attempt to stay standing.
“Just because the sidewalk looks like there’s no ice on it doesn’t mean there isn’t. Black ice is a real thing and it’s scary,” Thompson said.
Speaking from experience, Thompson warns that boots with traction do not ensure no slipping.
For students coming to the Midwest from warmer regions, Miller encouraged students to reconsider bringing a car to campus. Not only will the students have little to no experience driving on snow and ice-covered roads, but the cars may not be made for winter.
Some cars may not have the proper battery, coolant or tires for winter driving. For any students driving in snowy conditions, Miller emphasized the need to be prepared with a winter storm emergency kit. The kit should include extra blankets, warm clothes, high-energy snacks, a shovel and a working cell phone with a charger. It is also important to keep the gas tank over half full in freezing temperatures. While it is necessary to be prepared, Miller believes that the best way to avoid unsafe conditions is not to drive.
“If the sheriff’s department says no driving, don’t drive,” Miller said.
Whether you have grown up with snow your whole life or you are experiencing Iowa winter for the first time, common sense is the best way to stay safe on campus. If you are discouraged by the snow and ice, just remember what Punxutawney Phil told us: spring is on its way.