When the weather takes a turn for the worst during winter months, students and employees often ask if the university will be open. As a general rule, the university is always open until otherwise notified.
The decision to declare an emergency weather suspension of campus operations, including class cancellations, is a data-informed, consultative process involving several areas including Public Safety, Physical Plant, Environmental Health and Safety, representatives from the different university divisions, the provost and president. Decisions concerning class cancellations are finalized by the provost, and emergency weather closures require presidential authorization.
So what are those factors that go into determining the status of university operations and whether or not to cancel classes?
To help to make the decision, NIU utilizes data from its staff meteorologist to assign a numerical value to the following weather-related criteria contained within the NIU Severe Weather Model for School Closures:
- Temperature scored at temperatures of -10, -15, -20 and -22 degrees
- Winds, scored by gusts ranging from 10-80 miles per hour
- Snow, or snow mixed with sleet, in process or accumulating, snow/sleet just ended as of 8 AM on a business day.
- Freezing rain and ice accumulation ranging from trace amounts to more than .25 inches
- Other issues, including dense fog and low visibility
Score totals above 50 but below 100 mean that a closure should be discussed by University Administration and a score at or above 100 means a complete closure of the University during the time of the forecast should be reccomended by the Operational team to University leadership. Scores of 100 are automatically given if the following circumstances take place:
- A low temperature of -22 degrees Fahrenheit or colder (without wind chill)
- If any of the following roads are closed in DeKalb for ANY weather-related reasons:
- Route 38/Lincoln Highway
- Route 23/4th St.
- I-88/Reagan Tollway
- Other major roads are closed leading in and out of the city (e.g., First Street,
- Fairview Drive/Malta Road)
- Side streets are impassable throughout the city
- Annie Glidden Road
- A blizzard warning issued by the National Weather Service
- An ice storm warning issued by the National Weather Service
- A state of emergency declared by the governor of Illinois, or other local, state, or federal governmental officials
- The NIU Facilities Department is unable to open roads, sidewalks, parking, or facilities for safe campus operations due to weather conditions
- The buses are inoperable due to being unable to start, stop properly, or are stuck
This model serves as a GUIDE and is not the sole criteria considered to determine the closure process. By utilizing data to inform its decisions, NIU endeavors to make the best decision possible concerning general conditions and the overall needs of the campus.
However, it is the personal responsibility of all students, faculty and staff to make their own decisions and judgments concerning travel conditions and the danger of attending classes or coming to work under conditions they personally believe to be unsafe.