Snowed-In Students Find Ways Outdoors

by James Leonard | Staff Writer

SCRANTON — Students seem to be enjoying the fresh snow on the ground to kick off the spring semester. First-year student Olivia Hudak sledded down Taylor Avenue using less conventional means with her friends this week.

“We saw that the streets still weren’t plowed late at night so we went out to investigate,” Hudak said. “As we ventured further in the Hill Section we thought it would be an awesome place to go sledding. Luckily, there was an abandoned caution sign in the street that we were able to use as a makeshift sled. It worked better than expected and we all had a lot of fun doing it.”

From simply venturing out in the snow with friends to partaking in winter sports activities, students at the University took advantage of their two snow days that delayed the start of spring classes.

Hudak said the near twenty inches of snow that accumulated Monday to Tuesday drew her outdoors, but until the snow was fully cleared late on Tuesday afternoon, it was difficult getting to and from buildings to get food.

“Walking in such deep snow was pretty hard, but it was also fun at the same time – especially with friends,” Hudak said.

Junior psychology major Charlotte Perri took advantage of her days off from school to mentally prepare for the spring semester and also went out to ski.

“I was excited to hear that we were going to get a lot of snow and possibly the snow days, which we did end up getting,” Perri said. “Having that extra time to relax before classes allowed me to get settled in and prepare without feeling too overwhelmed.”

Perri said her and a friend decided to go ski at Montage Mountain with the fresh powder that had fallen Tuesday.

“I learned how to ski last spring semester and have been waiting for a good time to go again ever since. Who would’ve known that it would be a couple of days after I got back from break,” Perri said.

Perri went on to say that having places like Montage Mountain so close to campus is great, especially during this time of year.

“There are so many places that host outdoor activities for anytime of year from Montage in the winter, Roba’s in the fall and parks all year,” Perri said.

Some students chose not to venture out into the elements and instead stayed indoors, away from the cold.

Junior business major Joe Endaya took advantage of his time off to spend quality time with friends.

“The snow was a really nice way to kick off the semester. I got to catch up with people I wouldn’t have otherwise seen until the first weekend after classes,” Endaya said. “It was also cool seeing this much snow on the ground.”

The University Maintenance staff has been busy throughout the winter monitoring winter storm systems and keeping stocks of important tools such as plows and salt for pathways.

Campus Maintenance Director James Caffrey leads many plans that the University has to tackle winter storms like the one that occurred this week.

“We monitor the weather using the National Weather Service, which has proved to be the most accurate forecast,” Caffrey said. “The forecast for Scranton was Sunday evening 3”, Monday 9”, Monday evening 5”, Tuesday 2” and Tuesday evening another 1”, for a total of about 20.”

Caffrey said the plans are made between a variety of sources including himself, the Provost, Human Resources and Student Services. They did so through Zoom meetings Sunday through Tuesday.

The snow removal facilities operate on a special snow schedule which alternates weekends for on-call coverage.

“We have over 100 staff in the Facilities Operations Department that are activated when necessary to help with snow removal operations,” Caffrey said.

The maintenance staff is equipped with a plethora of snow removal tools according to Caffrey, including Skid Steers, dump trucks, trucks with plows, Kubota Utility Terrain Vehicles with plows, snow throwers, shovels, stock brine for pre-treating roads, ice and snow melt.

“We also have contracts in place with local vendors to remove large piles of snow which they load and take off-site when we have extreme snow falls, like this week,” Caffrey said. “Our entire Facilities staff did a great job in a short amount of time to ready the campus for the start of spring classes today.”