University Lists Winter Weather Guidelines

The university wants students, faculty and staff to be prepared for when inclement winter weather strikes. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety website provides information to help you plan for winter. It also contains current information on the types of winter weather storm warnings, safety kits and winter driving. Other winter weather warning information can be found at the National Weather Service, or you can install one of the many free weather apps available for your mobile device.

The university has developed the following information and guidelines for what to do and who to call during winter weather snow storms that may impact the campus.

Will a winter storm cancel classes?

When the university officially is closed because of inclement weather, all classes are canceled, and all administrative offices are closed for the day; however, it may be possible for classes to be canceled and for the university to be open. It is important to listen carefully to the status of the university. The decision to close the university or cancel classes during the day will be made by 6 a.m., whenever possible.

If weather improves during the day … or gets worse

On occasion, the inclement weather subsides as the day progresses. On these occasions, a decision to reopen the university for evening classes and other activities will be made by 3 p.m. In cases where the university is open during the day, but worsening conditions warrant the cancellation of evening classes and activities, that decision also will be announced by 3 p.m.


The University’s Emergency Notification System (USTALERT) will be used to issue a notice of classes canceled or closure of the university. Issuing a notice with USTALERT will automatically trigger the following:

  • Registered phones will receive a text and/or phone alert.
  • All email addresses will receive an alert.
  • An alert banner will appear on all St. Thomas websites, and the official St. Thomas Facebook page and Twitter feed will display the alert message. Information on registering for the USTALERT system is available here.

Dial 651-962-SNOW

The notice also will be announced on the “Snow Line”: 651-962-SNOW or 651-962-7669. This will be the most up-to-date source for you to call. No other department or phone number will have more updated information.

Radio and television announcements

St. Thomas will use WCCO’s synchronized alert on WCCO radio (AM 830), WCCO TV and WCCO’s website as the official notification for closing or cancellation. Students, staff and faculty will know what decision has been made if they listen to or view the station updates about closing information between 6-8 a.m. In addition the university also alerts local television stations KARE and KSTP.

Who needs to come in and who can stay home

All employees who are not designated as “emergency essential employees” are excused from work, without change in compensation, for the day of closing. Emergency essential employees are required to report to work as scheduled.

The following positions are designated as emergency essential employees: Public Safety officers, IRT server administrators, resident dining food service workers and certain Facilities Management employees, such as managers, building service workers, grounds workers, shift supervisors and managers, maintenance mechanics and electricians. If you are unsure whether you are an emergency essential employee, contact your manager. Emergency essential employees will be compensated according to the university’s Inclement Weather Closing Policy, except that emergency essential employees who are represented by a union will be paid according to their collective bargaining agreement.

About the libraries

The O’Shaughnessy-Frey Library and Archbishop Ireland Memorial Library will attempt to be open during weather emergencies with a limited staff, though these staff are not designated as emergency essential employees. Other St. Thomas libraries likely will be closed. Any changes in the hours will be posted on the libraries’ website and social media sites. Changes also will be reflected on each library’s hours line. St. Thomas libraries’ staff generally will staff the chat reference service from remote locations during weather emergencies.

Parking on campus during snow emergencies

During a city-declared parking snow emergency, normal parking restrictions on campus still apply. Students and employees still are required to have a permit to park on campus; this necessary procedure allows for an orderly flow of the university’s internal snow removal. This includes no overnight parking from 2-5 a.m. in non-resident parking lots without the required permits.

In some cases, a university lot or location may be closed off due to snow removal. Parking-related information can be found on the Parking Services website.

Resident students with permits also should make sure to check for lot-closing postings during heavy snowfalls in the event it is necessary to close resident lots for plowing.

St. Paul and Minneapolis snow emergency information

The cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis may declare a “snow emergency” during snow events. This means that the city is placing a high priority on the plowing of city streets. To avoid having your vehicle ticketed and towed, it is very important for you to know when you must move your car and where you can park it during these events. In St. Paul, you can obtain an app for your phone and sign up to receive email or text message notifications when a snow emergency is declared. Notices also are posted on the city’s website, as well as its Facebook and Twitter accounts. In Minneapolis, in addition to email and text alerts, you also can sign up to have your phone called automatically when a snow emergency is declared. Notices also are posted through social media on Twitter and Facebook. Also note: It is illegal in St. Paul and Minneapolis to leave snow accumulation on a sidewalk. Saint Paul City Ordinance requires snow and ice to be removed from sidewalks, including access to the city streets, within 24 hours.

A place to stay on campus in case you are snowbound

During office hours, commuter students should work with Off-Campus Student Services or the Dean of Students Office. After business hours, students should work with Public Safety by going to its office on the first floor of Morrison Hall. Either of these offices will work with the students to meet their needs, which may include staying overnight. In that case, either office will contact Residence Life regarding availability.

The (off-campus) 48-hour parking rule overridden

Keep in mind that the city of St. Paul’s snow-emergency rules override the existing rule that cars must be moved every 48 hours if parked on a residential street. Vehicles still must be moved regularly.

As noted in the university’s St. Paul Parking Guide: “Even in areas where no permit is required, there is a 48-hour limit for parking a vehicle in the same location on city streets.”

For departments hosting special events

One of the most frequent oversights in the event planning process during the winter is creating a plan for inclement weather. Individual departments that host events should plan for how to communicate with guests should the weather prevent the event from being held. This may include having guests call a phone number and having the information on your website and social media accounts for cancellation updates. This way you are able to provide the most accurate and direct contact because your guests will look to you for this information. There is no central location or phone number for guests to learn of the cancellations unless the university closes.

Plan Ahead

If severe winter weather is on the way, you will find a link to this article to assist with your planning. You also may want to bookmark it.