Snow Scare Causes Class Cancellations

Photo by Theresa Mattia.

Winter Storm Juno slammed coastal areas of the northeast region early last week, resulting in significant snow buildup, hazardous blizzard conditions and widespread winter storm warnings. Snow accumulation in Maine, Rhode Island and Massachusetts ranged from 19.1 to 34.5 inches, breaking multiple precipitation records, according to

Prior to its onset, Juno gained massive attention across the northeast and New England regions. Predictions for Juno’s effects from The Weather Channel labelled the storm potentially “historic … [a term] meteorologists reserve for weather events of exceptional strength or magnitude.” Warnings from major news sources called for individuals in at-risk areas to perform blizzard safety protocols and prepare for hazardous conditions.

The Village of New Paltz was among the list of local regions advised to prepare for winter storm conditions; on Monday night, anticipated at least a foot of snow in the area, with the majority of snowfall occurring Monday evening into Tuesday afternoon. At 12:10 p.m. last Monday, students, faculty and administrators received a campus-wide NPALERT stating that classes after 2 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 26 and all classes on Tuesday, Jan. 27 had been canceled due to inclement weather.

Predictions for Juno’s impact brought back memories of winter storms and dangerous weather events regionally in previous years. Life-long New Paltz resident Debbie Nemerofsky spoke on how dramatic winter weather had affected her in the past.

“I remember there was a night when I was sick [and working in town] and I couldn’t get home,” Nemerofsky said. “You know, in town, there’s nowhere to park, and if there’s more than two inches of snow [on the ground], they’re going to tow your car. Even if you have a spot to park, you can’t get into it. Driving and getting to work is hazardous, if you can get there. If you live in the village, they expect you to walk [to work]. And if you’re in the service industry, not many people are out, and some of the smaller businesses close. So it really has a huge financial impact for people working in the village.”

However, snow accumulation in New Paltz fell short of meteorologists’ predictions for Juno. According to The Weather Channel’s archives, New Paltz received a total of .06 inches of precipitation in the 96 hour span from Sunday, Jan. 25 to Wednesday, Jan. 28.

Despite this discrepancy, first-year student Juliet Wilde ten Broeke said she agreed with the school administrators’ decision to cancel classes.

“I heard a lot of people complaining about the lack of snow, and how it was ‘stupid’ to close school, but if the storm had not veered off its path, we could have been involved in something dangerous,” ten Broeke said. “I don’t understand how people can blame the school or weather men, because weather is absolutely unpredictable. So yes, the school made the right decision with what we were given as a forecast.”

Although Juno was “downgraded to a dusting,” third-year accounting major Rachel Schiff also agreed with the decision.

“We weren’t sure about how serious the storm would have been,” Schiff said. “After all, New York was in a state of emergency, and most roadways were getting closed down after 11 p.m. However, I think it would have been better if we had kept classes open for the afternoon once the storm was downgraded.”

Schiff said that the storm greatly affected her plans.

“I was supposed to go to a concert Tuesday night in the city, but the impending storm made the bands cancel the date, and I had to get a refund on my bus and concert tickets,” she said.

However, Schiff said she made the most of the situation. When describing her snow day itinerary, she said, “I mainly stayed in bed, watched Netflix and did homework that was pre-assigned by professors for the storm.”